Judge dismisses case against Chatham over statue

BY CASEY MANN, News + Record Staff
Posted 12/1/19

PITTSBORO — Superior Court Judge Susan Bray granted Chatham County's motion to dismiss the case against the Board of Commissioners filed by three residents and the Winnie Davis Chapter of the …

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Judge dismisses case against Chatham over statue

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Posted

PITTSBORO — Superior Court Judge Susan Bray granted Chatham County's motion to dismiss the case against the Board of Commissioners filed by three residents and the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy regarding the confederate statue that used to stand on the grounds of the Historic Chatham County Courthouse on Monday.

Though an appeal may be filed, the dismissal may be the end of the legal battle over the county's removal of the monument, first installed in 1907. It started in August when the Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 requesting the UDC reclaim the statue which the county argues the Daughters owns. In a subsequent vote in October, the board voted to authorize the county staff to make the necessary arrangements to safely remove and store the statue.

That vote triggered a suit filed by the residents and the UDC, seeking first a temporary restraining order and later a preliminary injunction against the removal of the statue. While the temporary restraining order was granted, the group was later denied the preliminary injunction and the statue and its pedestal were removed two weeks ago.

Though the statue had been removed, the UDC was still seeking a declaratory judgment on the ownership of the statue. The UDC argue that the statue was a gift, but the county argued that a license created by the county in 1907, entered into with the UDC, and stored at the N.C. Archives demonstrated that the statue was owned by the UDC.

At the Chatham County Justice Center on Monday, attorneys for the county and Chatham for All argued that Judge Bray should dismiss the case for several legal reasons boiling down to standing in the case. After more than two hours of discussions, the judge ruled that the case should be dismissed over the objections of the UDC attorneys.

Immediately following the ruling, Commissioner Karen Howard shared her thoughts with the News + Record.

“I relieved on behalf of the board and of the residents of Chatham County,” Howard said. “I'm ready for Chatham County to return to the warm, loving, wonderful, inclusive community I know it to be...and just in time for the holidays.”

More coverage on the hearing can be found in this week's edition of the Chatham News + Record which can be found on news stands this Wednesday.

Casey Mann can be reached at Caseymann@chathamnr.com.

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