NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Leaders in New Hanover County believe they have a way to rightfully remove a member of the Board of Commissioners.
The actions of Commissioner Brian Berger have county staff preparing for the process of amotion, something that hasn't been seen in North Carolina for more than 100 years.
County spokesperson Charles Smith said legal staff consulted with the NC Bar Association about the process, leaving county leaders to believe that they are within their rights to execute this process.
"In many ways, the county is in uncharted waters," said Smith. "But we are working meticulously to make sure everything is done appropriately."
The process of amotion is not connected to the current legal system – it actually comes from English Common Law. But Smith said the county is modeling the proceeding as closely to a legal matter as possible.
Berger will be notified of the charges against him, then he will have an opportunity to state his case. If his fellow elected leaders vote to remove Berger from office, the county will no longer recognize him in an official capacity.
Smith stressed that the forthcoming process will be just as fair as an actual court case.
"The amotion proceeding will be a fair proceeding," he said.
Berger can then challenge the decision and appeal to superior court. Smith said a court decision would likely consider two aspects of the process: if the authority of amotion still exists for the county, and if county leaders used it properly.
The Board of Commissioners asked staff to prepare for the next step in the process for the April 22 meeting.
Monday night, commissioners voted 3-1 to censure Berger and to begin the amotion process.
However, County Commissioner Barfield was not present for the vote. He excused himself earlier in the meeting for what he said was a stomach illness.
Commissioner Barfield said Tuesday night, "The censure does nothing more than me asking him to resign when I was chair in 2011."
Barfield said that he was not aware of what was going to happen at Monday night's meeting, adding that he had not communicated with anyone because of his sickness.
Barfield also says he hasn't researched enough to comment on the amotion.
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