RALEIGH, N.C. — The state is getting back its long-lost original copy of the Bill of Rights -- but over the objections of one of the private owners.
The document spelling out the rights of American citizens originally was given to North Carolina by George Washington in 1789. It was stolen from the state Capitol by an invading Union soldier at the end of the Civil War.
It was sold to a Connecticut antiques dealer, who thought he'd found a buyer willing to pay $5 million in 2003. Instead, it was a sting operation and an FBI agent handed over a seizure warrant signed by a federal judge in Raleigh.
The bitter legal tug-of-war over the historic document led federal judge Terrence Boyle to order the weathered parchment handed over to Gov. Mike Easley.
He accepted it in a brief ceremony in the state Capitol, where it had gone missing 140 years ago.
An attorney for one of the historic document's claimed owners cried foul.
Attorney Mike Stratton of New Haven, Connecticut, says Boyle's decision ignores an earlier federal appeals court order that mandated the rights of all parties staking a claim to the document be respected -- including those of his client.