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Judge checks status in multiple public records suits against McCrory; more updates expected next week

Judge Allen Baddour on Friday held informal hearings in several court cases against Gov. Pat McCrory filed by a coalition of media and public policy groups. Here are the updates via Michael J. Tadych, an attorney for the plaintiffs in each case:

Real Facts v. McCrory, et al. [1] – The Governor’s lawyers agreed to allow WBTV to intervene as a plaintiff in the case about McCrory’s travel records. The Governor’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety have asserted that they produced all records requested, but most were heavily redacted [2]based on whether they were deemed a personal or political activity or might compromise McCrory’s security. Baddour directed the parties in the lawsuit to confer and attempt to agree on the scope of the issues presented by the case, and he tentatively scheduled a further status conference in the case (and in the other cases) for next week.

Charlotte Observer v. McCrory [3] – The newspaper filed suit Oct. 7 over a request for email messages and other communications related to House Bill 2 [4]. The Governor’s Office subsequently produced a large number of records Oct. 17 but nothing since. McCrory’s associate general counsel told Baddour they were reviewing thousands of emails and hoped to produce an additional batch of records early this week. Tadych suggested the office turn over all records already vetted, regardless of a complete review.

Indy Week v. Skvarla [5] – The lawsuit, filed Oct. 19, seeks public records related to the salaries and other compensation for Industrial Commission commissioners, deputy commissioners and administrators and Industrial Commission annual reports. The records were requested in April, and none have been provided. David Efird, counsel to the Department of Commerce, told Baddour that he was looking into the records at issue.

Indy Week v. McCrory [6] – This suit was filed Oct. 19 and also involves a series of records related to HB2 and other subjects that were requested between April and August. To date, none of the records at issue have been provided. Jon Harris, one of McCrory’s counsel in the case, told Baddour that he was looking into the records and would be prepared to report on status next week.

After hearing the status of each case, Baddour asked the attorneys for their views on the potential need for, and efficacy of, mediation. Tadych said he would not foreclose the possibility, but his view was generally that mediation was not helpful and results in further delay. The governments’ attorneys said that mediated would be helpful and was mandatory. Baddour said “mediation is not useful for resolving issues of statutory construction,” and that he was inclined to treat it as a tool to be deployed if and when he thought it would be useful, as in any ordinary civil case.