According to the Wednesday, October 14, 2009 News & Observer, the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has decided it would not appeal a Superior Court judge’s decision that June Atkinson the state superintendent of public instruction, has the legal authority to run the state education agency. This is a dramatic turnaround from the position it took immediately after the judge’s ruling, which was that it intended to appeal.
No explanation was given by the A.G.O. spokeswoman Noelle Talley for the dramatic change, but it is a decision that is welcomed by most North Carolinians, as the A.G.O. has in the past wasted time, money and resources appealing many cases and prosecuting cases that defied such attention. Retrying Alan Gell, after exculpatory evidence was unearthed, immediately comes to mind. The unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Appeals seeking not to have the case against Theodore Jerry Williams dropped after prosecutors admitted to destroying evidence invaluable to a case trumped up by police, is yet another. Possibly one of the biggest blights on the A.G.O.’s record is its successful appeal to deny a new trial to Michael Peterson, the novelist who was convicted with the aid of prosecutors withholding the existence of the probable murder weapon from defense attorneys.
The A.G.O. yielded to logic and reason… the logic and reason of Governor Bev Perdue and school board chairman Bill Harrison. The governor realized that her blatant power-grab was destined to fail after the judge’s decision against her, and when it became known to the public that the newly created position to usurp the authority of the publicly elected superintendent of public instruction (June Atkinson) would cost taxpayers an additional quarter of a million dollars a year (more than double that of Ms. Atkinson) to pay the salary of the “school CEO.” Bill Harrison realized his blatant money-grab was doomed when his excessive salary was made public, and he began back-peddling to appear as gracious and conciliatory as possible.
Without the two aforementioned underpinnings of support, based on logic, reason, and reality, Attorney General Roy Cooper backed off his earlier posturing to appeal, and silently changed course. His decision was evidently made last month, but not publicized until today, October 14th.
It would be in the best interests of the residents of the state, and the Attorney General’s Office, itself, if the attorney general would utilize logic and reason within the context of reality before threatening to appeal a decision with which he disagrees, or to re-try a case when so ordered by an appeals court.