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Part of search warrant in former Person DA case to be released

A Superior Court judge ruled Monday that details of a recent search of the district attorney's office in Person County be released.

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MONROE, N.C. — A Superior Court judge ruled Monday that details of a recent search of the district attorney's office in Person County be released.

The State Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Joel Brewer since last fall, officials said, but the reason for the probe hasn't been disclosed. Brewer, who retired last month as district attorney of Person and Caswell counties, has said he is cooperating fully with the investigation.

SBI agents searched Brewer's office at the Person County Courthouse two weeks ago, and Brewer asked that the search warrant be sealed so that details of what was taken and the reason for the search couldn't be reported.

Attorney George Daniel argued that Brewer hasn't been charged with a crime and that the contents of the search warrant and accompanying affidavit could embarrass other people.

"The information that would come out – would potentially come out in the search warrant (and) in this affidavit – with him not being charged would be devastating, to say the least," Daniel said.

He also noted that search warrants were sealed in the Nancy Cooper murder case in Wake County.

Deputy Attorney General Jim Coman said the case against Brewer is different than the investigation of Cooper's 2008 slaying in Cary. Brewer was a public official at the time of the search, he said, and it would set a bad precedent if officials were able to prevent the public from seeing what was happening in their offices.

"Because this search warrant was issued against an individual who was serving in a public capacity that the time, it's even more important for the court to hold this matter open," Coman said. "The only reason, I submit, that we are here today is because of Brewer's status, and he wants preferential treatment."

Judge Gary Trawick said a copy of the search warrant and affidavit with two paragraphs redacted must be filed in Person County by Wednesday afternoon. An unedited version would be released if any criminal charges are filed in the case, Trawick ruled.

A Roxboro attorney who is familiar with the case and has seen court documents dealing with it said the SBI investigation doesn't involve anyone else in the district attorney's office and there is more than one accuser.

Gov. Beverly Perdue's office is reviewing candidates to name someone to fill the remainder of Brewer's term.


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