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Date set for North Carolina voter ID state trial
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BY GARY D. ROBERTSON
RALEIGH ? A challenge to North
Carolina's new voter identification require
ment will go to trial in state court this fall
setting the stage for a possible decision
before early in-person voting begins for
the big November election.
Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan
on Monday set Sept. 26 for the trial, which
could last a week or two. Morgan asked
lawyers in a Wake County courtroom to
confirm the Oct. 27 start date for early vot
ing, when perspective voters must show
one of several forms of photo ID. A two
week trial would give Morgan less than
three weeks to rule.
The ID mandate was approved in 2013
and used for the first time in the March pri
mary and again in the June congressional
The case is separate from federal law
suits challenging the photo ID requirement
and other voting changes by the General
Assembly. A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals heard arguments last
month on whether a lower court decision
upholding all the changes should stand.
A ruling in that appeal could come
soon, but Morgan said he can't make his
decisions based on what other courts may
XT11 stay in my lane. I don't know what
else is going to be done by any other enti
ties or persons," Morgan said from the
bench/"I will move this matter forward as
expeditiously as possible."
Morgan set a date even though attor
neys for the state have argued it was too
late to hold a trial this fall. They've said a
pre-election ruling could upset the training
and planning process for voter ID in a
presidential election year. The lawyers also
contend the case should be transferred to a
three-judge state panel or that an appeal at
the Couit of Appeals should be heard first.
Proceedings in the state lawsuit already
were delayed while voter ID was imple
menied in March with a supplemental law
allowing people who had trouble obtaining
a qualified ID to fill out a form and provide
other information so their vote would still
The state lawsuit makes different
claims than the federal lawsuit, which
focuses on the U.S. Voting Rights Act, said
Anita Earls, the lead attorney in the state
case for voters and voting-rights groups
who filed originally in August 2013.
The state case focuses on whether the
ID requirement is another qualification to
vote beyond what is set in the North
Carolina Constitution. The plaintiffs'
amended lawsuit filed in April argues the
mandate intentionally discriminates
against black and American Indian voters
at disproportionate rates.
State attorneys have said voter ID is a
legal extension of voter registration rules
to ensure the person seeking to vote is
actually the person listed in voter rolls.
N. C. keeps police camera videos from public record
BY ANNA GRONEWOLD
RALEIGH ? Recordings from law enforcement
body and dashboard cameras will not be considered public
records in North Carolina under a law signed Monday by
Gov. Pat McCrory.
Civil libertarians and social justice activists said the
law will make it more difficult to hold officers account
Bystander videos posted online have fueled protests
nationwide after last week's killings of black men by white
officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the attack by a
black sniper that killed five officers at a march in Dallas.
Police videos of these crime scenes have yet to be made
The law clarifies that body and dashboard camera
recordings cannot be kept confidential as part of an offi
cer's personnel file - a practice that has kept some images
from being scrutinized indefinitely.
"If you hold a piece of film for a long period of time,
you completely lose the trust of individuals," the governor
said. On the other hand, "we've learned if you immediate
ly release a video, sometimes it distorts the entire picture,
which is extremely unfair to our law enforcement offi
"In North Carolina we're going to walk that fine line
and do the right thing," McCrory said.
While 29 other states and D.C. have laws addressing
police camera recordings, North Carolina joins at least
five other states that exempt them from public records
requests, according to the National Conference of State
Supporters say the law, which
will take effect in October, will
protect the privacy of crime victims
and suspects as well as officers.
McCrory says the uniform system
of requesting access will increase
People who appear in the police
videos, or their representatives, can
ask to view but not copy the
recordings. But a law enforce
ment agency can deny such a
request to protect a person's safety
or reputation or if the recording is part of an active inves
"It comes down to a personal or moral level of who
ever the police chief is," said Wanda Hunter of the Raleigh
Police Accountability Community Task Force. "If it's
someone you constantly come head to head with, you can
just hang it up there."
Once denied, a requester could seek permission from a
judge, who can consider whether there's "compelling
public interest" in releasing it.
Prosecutors also would have access, to see whether an
officer's actions were legal.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
called it a "shameful law" that will make holding police
accountable for their actions "nearly impossible."
"People who are filmed by police body cameras
should not have to spend time and money to go to court in
order to see that footage. These barriefs are significant and
we expect them to drastically reduce any potential this
technology had to make law enforcement more account
able to community members," Susanna Birdsong, policy
counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a state
More than 3j000 people signed a petition delivered to
McCrory Friday seeking his veto of the bill, which passed
overwhelmingly with bipartisan support last month.
The state's sheriffs' and police chiefs' associations
have offered strong support, saying the law will increase
public access, because it makes clear the recordings are
not personnel files and requires each agency adopt written
policies for how officers use of body cameras.
"We anticipate that at some point members of the
press will take the new law out for a test drive to deter
mine how well it's going to work," said Mark Prak, a
lawyer for the North Carolina Press Association. "Lord
knows the events of the past week made clear that in order
for the public to understand what's going on in the world,
that kind of video can be really telling."
DIXIE CusSlc FAIR
October 2nd & October 9th
3:00 pm-6:00 pm
1. Submit a 5-7 minute DVD (not CD) of the gospel group singing the song(s) of choice. If you are chosen, then you will sing the
same song(s) as submitted. Please do not exceed the time limit
2. Be sure to write the group's name, contact name, contact number, pastor & church's name (if applicable).
3. Bring ai DVD submissions, direct all inquiries, or mail to:
The Chronicle / Gospel Fest
1J| ATTN: Debra Terry ijl
-^LJI 617 N. Liberty Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101 ]?
(336) 722-8624 ext. 116
4. OueiMmi Al 8ubmiarionr must be postmarked by Friday, September 2, 2016. DVD submissions may not be returned
and may remain property of The Chronide Newspaper.