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State Appeals Court to Decide Whether Councilman Stays in Office

Posted October 16, 2007
Updated October 17, 2007

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— A fight over residency that could determine an election in Rocky Mount went to the North Carolina Court of Appeals Tuesday.

Last week, voters re-elected Rocky Mount City Councilman Andre Knight to a second term, even though the county's board of elections, in 2006, said he could not legally represent that ward again.

Rev. Roosevelet Higgs challenged Knight's residency last year, arguing Knight was ineligible to serve as a council member in Ward 1 because he does not live there.

"Mr. Knight has succeeded in making a mockery of the electoral process for Ward 1 for a period of four years," Higgs said.

Knight's attorney, Michael Crowell, argued Tuesday that Knight's home in Rocky Mount is his primary residence and that two Nash County homes in question are only for his family's adult-care business.

Crowell argued his client never got a fair hearing from the Edgecombe County Board of Elections and that the former chairwoman made biased statements on the issue and then refused to recuse herself from the proceedings. He also argued related motions were mishandled and facts were ignored.

"There were various procedural problems," Crowell said. "They went into closed session when they shouldn't have."

Higgs said he thought Knight was treated fairly.

Edgecombe County officials were absent from Tuesday's proceedings, and they did not submit a written legal brief. Attorneys for the county did not immediately return WRAL's calls seeking comment about the case.

It could take the Court of Appeals as long at 90 days to issue a decision in this case.

Until the court hands down a decision, Knight remains a voting member of the Rocky Mount City Council.

10 Comments

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  • whatelseisnew Oct 17, 2007

    If he is in violation of the law, he needs to step down. He could always move into the district and run for election again.

  • Raleigh_ Esq. Oct 17, 2007

    @ NotFromHere --

    The 90-day timeline is only an internal policy of the Court, and decisions can take longer, depending on the complexity of the case. You hit the nail on the head when you said "our court system is so back logged." It would be unreasonable to expect a quicker turn around on appellate decisions. Would you rather a quick decision or a correct one? This can be a particularly important issue when you consider that future cases require examining precedent from this Court; a quicker turn-around time requiring hastily written judicial opinions would have detrimental ramifications for our State's law.

  • CuriousT Oct 17, 2007

    RTP Medic -

    He does represent a more economically depressed area of town.

  • CuriousT Oct 17, 2007

    I think it's interesting that all of the legal process has not only kept him in office, but then they re-elected someone that doesn't represent their district. He's very personable, but let's face it, he's BLOWN IT for the young people in his district.

    He should be setting an example of how to CORRECT an error in judgement. Admit you're wrong, do the right thing and resign until you can make it right by living in the district you represent. Instead, he's another example of someone dragging the court process out until he gets what HE WANTS regardless of what is the RIGHT AND LEGAL thing to do. I think those that went to the Million Man March should take him aside and tell him he's NOT representing the kind of man that our young people should look up to with this kind of behaviour.

    Just a thought,

  • methinks Oct 17, 2007

    The evidence presented to the Council was very interesting. They showed water bills and utilty bills that a 70 year old living alone was double. The water usage at the house in question was so low, I don't think he took a shower even every other day. And the electricity showed that he either went to bed at dark or read by candle light.

    http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/

    This link is the the Rocky Mount paper and they have a lot of information on this in the archives.

  • RTPMedic Oct 17, 2007

    He should resign unless he can prove he 'resides' in the district. I'm betting he represents a poorer section of the County while living in one 'not so poor'. Any one know for sure?

  • whatusay Oct 17, 2007

    A city councilman should live in the district he is representing.

  • NotFromHere Oct 17, 2007

    Yeah but why is the process so slow? Why does it take them 90 days to make a ruling? No wonder our court system is so back logged. If a private business were run the way our court system is run they would go out of business.

  • jon2four Oct 17, 2007

    Don't you just love how democracy works without anyone using car bombs, beheadings,and intimidation to try and come to an equitable and fair decission.

  • djofraleigh Oct 16, 2007

    So, such is the condition of self-government there...