Monday, October 31, 2016


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The NCNAACP is suing three counties in federal court alleging that they are illegally cancelling voter registrations because of alleged changes in addresses, in violation of the federal National Voters Registration Act (NVRA). With less than a week before the Nov. 8th general election, and with early voting ending on Nov. 5, voting rights advocates are calling the alleged practice yet another attempt at black voter suppression.
            The civil rights organization filed both a lawsuit and an application for a temporary restraining in the US District Court for the Middle District for North Carolina against the state Board of Elections on Monday.  At press time, a hearing was scheduled for federal court in Winston-Salem Wednesday.
            According to the application for a restraining order put forth by the NCNAACP’s attorneys, the NVRA “…protects Americans’ fundamental right to vote by…requiring that states meet certain requirements before cancelling a voter’s registration on the basis of a change in residence. Specifically, states must either (1) receive written confirmation from the voter that he or she has moved to a different residence outside the county, or (2) send a prescribed notice to which the voter fails to respond, and then wait for two federal election cycles in which the voter does not vote. Only after written confirmation, or notice, no response, and the two-cycle waiting period, may a state proceed with removal from the voter registration rolls.”
         The application continued, “The NVRA also protects access to the franchise by prohibiting any systematic program to remove voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election.”
            The NCNAACP alleges that the boards of Elections (BOEs) in Moore County, Beaufort County and Cumberland County “…have cancelled thousands of voters’ registrations on the basis of an alleged change in residence. Those purges of voter rolls resulted from proceedings that were triggered by challenges filed by private individuals, based on a single mailing returned as undeliverable. In most cases, these cancellations of registrations were supported by no other evidence—and none were supported by written confirmation from the voters of any alleged change in residence or compliant with the NVRA’s notice and waiting-period provisions. In many cases, the North Carolinians purged from voting rolls through these proceedings still reside at the addresses where they are registered, or have moved within the same county and remain eligible to vote there. Nonetheless, single items of returned mail have resulted in cancellation of their registrations,” the complaint states.
            And it has been determined that the majority of voters being removed from the county election rolls are African-Americans. At least 4500 voters have been purged, 3900 of them in Cumberland County alone.
The state Board of Elections counters that those local boards are following state statutes that authorize private citizens to challenge voter registrations on the basis of returned mailings. The state BOE confirms that “…thousands of voters have been challenged in the past three months on the basis of returned mail…” The NCNAACP is not only asking for a temporary restraining order to immediately stop the local BOEs from purging black voters before the Nov. 8th general election, but also a permanent injunction to restore the voting registrations of all of those purged.

                                                      JUDGE LINDA STEPHENS
                                                   JUDGE MARGARET EAGLES

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer
Two veteran jurists are vying for the NC Court of Appeals, promising to vigorously, but fairly, uphold the law if elected.
Wake County District Court Judge Margaret Eagles has presided over civil, criminal and family court cases, in addition to serving as one of two judges in the Abuse, Neglect and Dependence Courtroom. She is also the lead Domestic Violence judge in Wake County.
The daughter of former NC Appellate Court Chief Judge Sidney Eagles, Margaret Eagles, analum of Needham Broughton High School, Wake Forest University and Campbell University School of Law, didn’t intend originally to study law. “I enjoyed doing volunteer work and helping those who were less fortunate. Then, after working as a loan officer at the State Employee’s Credit Union, I knew that the best way I could continue to serve the hard working people of North Carolina was through the practice of law. “
Eagles started her legal career as a judicial clerk for Justice George Wainwright on the NC Supreme Court, working on appeals in criminal and civil cases. As an Assistant Attorney General, she represented the state in environmental enforcement litigation and in criminal appeals in the NC Court of Appeals. In private practice, Eagles was a civil litigator, handling numerous jury trials in District and Superior Courts.
            Among the many judges Judge Eagles admires most are former NC Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson “for her consistent judgment and consummate professionalism,” former Judge Martha Geer, and of course, her dad former Chief Judge Sidney Eagles, “…not only because he is my father and I love him, but because I respect his work on the Court, his true belief in the system and the grace and courtesy he shows to everyone he encounters. “
            Judge Margaret Eagles takes pride in the work she’s done.
            “I worked alongside the Administrative Office of the Courts and multiple stakeholders to implement remote electronic filing of complaints for emergency domestic violence protective orders from Interact, our local rape crisis and domestic violence agency.   I am the co-chair of the Wake County Domestic Violence Task Force and a member of the Wake County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team.”  
“I am dedicated to the rule of law,” Judge Eagles  says, “am steadfast in my respect to the public trust and committed to impartiality for all who appear before me as a district court judge, and would continue to do so if elected to the NC Court of Appeals. If elected, I would continue to treat all parties in the same manner, regardless of who they are or who represents them.”
            Judge Linda Stephens is running for re-election to NC Court of Appeals. The first in her family to graduate high school, she is an alum from the University of South Carolina, and earned her law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
             “I see the law as a great equalizer in society,” Judge Stephens says. “The law should treat everyone equally and never discriminate based on some portion of one’s identity.  In practical life, we all know that there is implicit bias in the law and the way it is applied, but I have always aimed higher than that.  I have always worked toward fairness and equality, as promised by our Constitution.”
            In her long career, Judge Stephens was named one of the top 50 female attorneys in North Carolina by Super Lawyers Magazine, and listed among the Best Lawyers in America during the last eleven years she was in private practice. She has won numerous awards for her hard work ethic, and ha served on the state appellate court for over ten years.
First, I believe in adhering to my oath of office,” she says, “ in other words: to uphold the Constitutions of my Country and my State; to uphold the laws of my State when they are consistent with the Constitutions; to follow the law in every case to reach the result the law requires even when that result is different from my personal beliefs.  My record indicates I have faithfully adhered to that oath.”
Second, over the past 10 years, I have worked collaboratively and cohesively with my colleagues who are from a different political party.  Political ideology has never affected my interest in or ability to work with another colleague on the Court of Appeals.,” Judge Stephens says.
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