Monday, June 20, 2016


By Cash Michaels

           HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! - Just  a quick shout out to my mom, Lillian, whose birthday it is today. Though she died in 2009, there's no reason to ever forget her. Happy Birthday, Mom!
            BACK IN THE HOSPITAL – I’m back in the hospital this week, but no need to worry, I’m scheduled to be until Sunday. As I reported at the beginning of this month, I’ve been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) since March, and have undergone chemotherapy since then. This week I’m undergoing  my third round of chemo, which is necessary in order to ensure that there is no recurrence of the cancer cells that initially compromised my immune system. I’m currently in remission now, meaning there are no cancer cells detected in my body. I’m scheduled to go through this week, spend three weeks home under outpatient care, then return for m last schedule week of chemo in the hospital a month from now, and then check in once every three months o make sure that that my body stays in remission.
            Could I relapse over the coming years? Yes. I have at least a 50 percent of doing so over the next two years. But the longer I stay in remission, the least likely it is that I will relapse.  So that is what I’m going with.
            In the meantime I am feeling stronger and better. I am back at work, and am more conscious than ever about keeping my mind and body in better shape. For now, I try not to go out in public in order to limit my exposure to infection. I’ve had to miss a number of public events recently because of that medical restriction, which I regret. But if it means being able to get through this important period with out major complications, then so be it.
            I’ve also been impressed, and inspired, by notables like TNT Network sportscaster Craig Sager, and UNC – Chapel Hill Tar Heel Women’s basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell, who reportedly also suffer from AML like I do, and are still receiving treatment.
            Sager was given the chance to work his very first NBA finals game last week on ABC-TV. Coach Hatchell has a best-selling book titled “Fight, Fight” about her personal struggles battling the disease. So it looks like I’m in excellent company.
            My goal is to live my life normally come September. With GOD’s help and blessing, I will.
            CLEVELAND WINS – I must admit, even though I was pulling for the  Golden State Warriors to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA Championship for a second year in a row, I did smile when I saw Cavalier Captain LeBron James relish the moment of winning championship for his hometown, and do so in dramatic fashion by coming back from a three games-to-one deficit – and LeBron and the boys worked hard for those victories to. So congratulations. Yes, I used to be sour grapes because I wanted LeBron to stay with Dwayne Wade in Miami. But, I guess I can settle for Kyrie Irving  in Cleveland.
            OJ : MADE IN AMERICA – if you have cable and get ‘On Demand,” then go to the ESPN On Demand channel to see the five-part series “OJ: Made in America,” an extraordinary documentary project traces the life of one of history’s most tragic sports figures, O. J. Simpson. But more than that, the series also traces the racial history between Los Angeles’ black community and the racist Los Angeles Police Dept.. It was that well-known racism that played a role in helping to get  Simpson acquitted when he was  charged with the 1994 double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The series brings it all back , and ironically shows how OJ actually enjoyed being a highly celebrated black athlete in a white world, deliberately turning his back on the black community.
            This series isn’t just about OJ, but brilliantly gives us a prime slice of black history that is well documented and should not be missed. “OJ: Made in America” should not be missed. Check it out on ESPN On Demand.
            JULY STARTUPS –In case you never knew it, most network TV series that premiere in late September. October or November or even in January are taped or filmed in July through August. Depending on when the show airs, it could be as much as two months to just a few weeks from when an episode is filmed to when it airs. For instance, the last episodes of CBS’ “NCIS” were filmed literally the month before they aired last season. So it’s always interesting to see how the new episodes reflect  current events when they air.
  Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            While a federal judge in Winston-Salem last April decided that that there was nothing about North Carolina’s 2013 voter ID law that should keep African-Americans or others from lawfully casting their ballots, a three-judge federal panel Tuesday wasn’t so sure.
            Based on remarks and questions coming from that panel of the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals, attorneys for the NCNAACP “…feel very good about our case and the evidence which we presented,” attorney Irving Joyner, chairman of the NCNAACP’s Legal Redress Committee says. “We clearly hope that the Fourth Circuit will reverse the District Court’s [April 25th] decision…. From there, it is on to the [US] Supreme Court, no matter what the outcome is.”
            Attorneys for the state claim that the 2013 voting restrictions were necessary to stop voting fraud.
            The NCNAACP and other plaintiffs appealed to the US Fourth Circuit to fast-track a stay of a federal judge’s April 25th ruling dismissing their lawsuit against Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led NC General Assembly for their passage of the 2013 voter ID law until all other appeals have been exhausted. The original suit  charged that the 2013 law violated the constitutional rights of black voters. The appeal sought to “…keep in place this Court’s prior injunction forbidding Defendants from eliminating same-day registration and refusing to count out-of-precinct provisional ballots” in addition to keeping in place the portion of the law that reduced the early voting period by a week.
            The voter photo identification requirement began in earnest during the March 15th primary. Unless the federal appellate court rules otherwise, the voter ID provision will be in force for the Nov. 8th general election as well.
            Based on the evidence presented, members of the three-judge panel openly questioned the timing of the Legislature passing the 2013 voter ID law, with one judge, Henry F. Floyd, saying that the intent to suppress the votes of people of color “…Looks pretty bad to me.”
            Another Appellate Court judge, James A. Wynn, questioned why certain type of government-issued photo identification, like public university or public assistance ID cards, was disallowed.  Judge Wynn once served on the NC Court of Appeals.
            There was no word on when the three-judge panel would issue its decision, even though it could, per the petition of the NCNAACP, the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs, order that the voter photo ID requirement not be implemented for the November 8th general election.
            “…Plaintiffs believe they have a likelihood of success on the merits on this claim and that voters will be irreparably harmed if the photo ID requirement is in effect in the November 2016 presidential election,” the appeal reads. “Plaintiffs believe that if and when they prevail on the photo ID claim, implementation of the Court’s order will be straightforward and simple: the requirement will simply fall away and voters will no longer be asked to show photo ID at the polls in order to vote.”
            However, as atty. Joyner noted, there’s little doubt that attorneys for Gov. McCrory and the Legislature would appeal such a ruling to the US Supreme Court, seeking an injunction to halt any disruption of the 2013 law.

                                                    JUDGE MIKE MORGAN

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            After over 26 years on the North Carolina bench, Wake Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan believes he now has the length and breath of experience to serve on the state Supreme Court.
            “Certainly I’m better qualified than the incumbent who currently holds the seat,” Morgan said during a phone interview Saturday.
            Apparently a lot of North Carolina voters agree with Judge Morgan. He was the second most popular votegetter out of four during the June  7th special primary  behind incumbent NC Senior Associate Justice Robert H. Edmunds Jr. , thus securing a November battle.
            But unseating Justice Edmunds this fall will be a tall order, especially given that the veteran jurist has the endorsement of several former Supreme Court justices, just about every sheriff in the state, Gov. Pat McCrory, and the NC Republican Party. In addition, the Republican-led NC General Assembly passed a retention law last year so that Edmunds wouldn’t originally have to face re-election. A subsequent Wake Superior Court panel ruled the retention law unconstitutional however, and the state Supreme Court (minus Edmunds) heard arguments in April for a final decision. 
            Until they rule, Edmunds must run. If the justices split evenly, then the Wake judicial panel’s ruling stands, and the retention law fails.
            So Morgan and Edmunds will now faceoff for Edmunds’ seat during the Nov. 8th general election. Turnout will most likely not be an issue since there is also a divisive presidential election on the ballot. Add to that races for North Carolina governor and the US Senate, in addition to congressional and legislative races, and Nov . 8th promises to deliver plenty of voters to the polls.
            The problem could be by the time voters go through all of the candidates in the high profile contests, they may not turn over their ballots to see that there is an important High Court race on the other side.
            That means Judge Morgan, a registered Democrat, has lot of work to do across the state to get his name, face and history in front of voters. The NCGOP pushed Edmunds for the June primary, warning of a “liberal” state Supreme Court” if he lost.
            Judicial candidates aren’t afforded the luxuries of partisan politicians for elective office. Their allegiance is supposed to be to upholding the law, not to a party or special money interest. And judicial candidates are limited in what they can say when they run for office.
            And on top of all of that, it is difficult for African-American candidates for statewide office, like  Morgan, to win in North Carolina. NC Associate Justice Cheri Beasley barely won her seat in 2014, and Linda Coleman lost by a whisker when she first ran for Lt. Governor in 2012.
            That’s why Judge Morgan is hopeful that his almost three decades on the bench at various levels of state jurisprudence – longer than Justice Edmunds - will prove to the voters in November that he is worthy of their consideration.  State administrative law judge for five years; district court judge for ten years; and his current position of superior court judge for eleven years.
            “Add to that that my opponent, while he has been a Supreme Court justice, and is currently in that seat, has never been a trial judge.,” says Judge Morgan. ”Supreme Court justices review the courts’ records that are generated in the lower courts. They are a reviewing court to see what errors have been committed potentially in the courts below.”
            A review of Justice Edmunds’ record confirms that while he has been a state and federal litigator, in addition to serving on the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court for sixteen years, he has never been a trial judge.
            “Experience is the best qualification for a member of the judiciary,” Justice Edmunds says on his re-election website.
            Judge Morgan agrees, which is why he believes hearing evidence on everything from state personnel matters to criminal cases, to even the recent voter ID controversy, has properly prepared him for the role of state Supreme Court justice.
            “My opponent has never been a trial judge, so as a result [he’s] handicapped by virtue of having a lack of experience that I would have to be able to look at the record, know what it should have been, know what it shouldn’t have been, and therefore understand if there have been any errors committed in the courts below.”
            Beyond a wealth of trial judge experience, Morgan also differs from Edmunds when it comes to judicial philosophy. Justice Edmunds prides himself on a “strict” adherence to interpreting the law through the Constitution. For many, that’s another way of assuring supporters that he is a conservative.
            “Judges ought not have any predisposition or proclivity of any kind in terms of a political leaning as to how one is going to look at a case,” Judge Morgan says. “ [Justice Edmunds] doesn’t say he’s a fair and impartial judge. He says he’s a conservative judge. That not only impairs his ability to be fair and impartial, but one who is looking for fairness and impartiality can’t help but look at this announced proclivity to be conservative before even looking at a case in terms of wondering if indeed justice is being rendered. And it’s important not only that justice be rendered, but that there be the appearance of justice being rendered in every case.”
            “This [NC Supreme Court] seat must be guaranteed to be fair and impartial, and the fact that I’ve been elected and re-elected by the great citizens of Wake County shows that I have that capacity,” Judge Morgan, who proudly adds that he has been rated high for his professionalism and integrity by his legal peers, says.
            If Morgan wins in November, he will be one of two African-Americans serving on the seven-member NC Supreme Court, but the only black male. And while Morgan is sensitive to the importance and appearance of an African-American male serving on the state’s highest court, he says it’s even more important that people look past his color and see a better qualified, fair candidate.
            “When I travel across the state, people are very excited about my campaign,” Judge Morgan says. “I like to think that I’m a unique enough candidate who just happens to be African-American. I’m not running because of my race.”
            The stakes are high in the Morgan – Edmunds race, because the winner decides the ideological balance of power on the 4-3 conservative state High Court. Republicans in the Legislature were all too transparent when they passed a retention law last year to protect Edmunds from having to face an election, wanting to ensure that the court remained in GOP hands.
            Morgan’s election would throw a monkey- wrench in that plan.
     A native of Cherry Point, NC, Mike Morgan is the oldest of five children. He
graduated from New Bern public schools. Morgan got his B.A. in both History and Sociology from Duke University in 1976. He earned his Juris Doctor Degree with honors from North Carolina Central University in 1979. From 1983 to 1989, Morgan was an assistant state Attorney General in the NC Dept of Justice. From 1989 to 1994, he served as a NC administrative law judge; from 1994 to 2004 a district court judge; and from 2005 to the present a Wake County superior court judge.
            “I love what I do,” Judge Morgan says. “I feel that after this length of service, I’m due for a promotion and ready for greater service. I hope that the people of North Carolina agree that I am ready.”

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