Greensboro mayor’s trial still on hold

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2005

GREENSBORO-The courtroom challenge of last fall’s Greensboro Mayor’s Election will have to wait a little longer as both sides continue to seek a date to hold their pretrial conference.

Walter E. Braswell, who is representing challenger Vanessa Hill, said the first phase of the process was completed some time ago. Braswell and attorneys representing current Mayor Johnny B. Washington completed this process in early August.

“Of course we finished the examination of the ballots over a month ago,” Braswell said. “Each side had a chance to review the ballots and tell the judge which ballots they felt were suspect.”

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Braswell said the purpose of the pretrial conference was to make courtroom procedure go smoothly.

“Following that the judge said he wanted to have a pretrial conference to meet with the lawyers to tell them how he wanted the presentation of evidence to take place,” Braswell said. “He wanted to meet with us so that when the case went to court we could proceed as quickly as possible.”

So far, the two sides are still trying to meet in the middle on when the meeting can take place.

Phase one in the challenge of last year’s Greensboro Mayor’s election ended in early August after both sides concluded their examinations of the ballots, which had gone on for a month.

The process was long and slow as both sides literally looked over thousands of pieces of paper. However, this was a necessary evil to find suspect ballots and other documents to put together a case.

Their claims had to be filed with Montgomery County Circuit Judge William Shashy by Aug. 10 explaining why each side feels a vote should or should not be counted.

Braswell said it was tough to say when the challenge would go to trial. He said that would depend on scheduling and other trials already on the docket. However, he did say he felt they were making progress.

An Aug. 9 Braswell made a request for a pretrial conference to discuss the absence of certain election documents, to wit: Ballot Accounting Certificate; Voter List; Absentee Vote List (list of applicants returning ballots); “Late” Absentee Ballots and “Spoiled” Ballots.”

In Braswell’s Aug. 9 request Braswell questioned the way some of the ballots were handled.

Braswell also requested copies of documents pertaining to absentee ballots that were considered suspect during the Montgomery examination.

Braswell added having these documents in place prior to the trial would save everyone a great deal of trouble.

Braswell also said a method could be ordered whereby there would be assurance that the copies obtained were authentic, accurate and complete.

His final request was guidance on how the court wishes to have evidence presented, the use of any expert (whether court-appointed or retained by counsel), the acceptability of affidavits or need for live witnesses where only a single point is in contention and whether any additional discovery is desired or warranted.

Braswell said these are the matters, which both counsel have discussed and failed to reach consensus upon.

With the request in place, Braswell said it was now just a matter of putting the meeting together.

“That is where we are right now,” Braswell said. “It is kind of a hurry up and wait situation.”