Rumors abound in voting maps battle; TV spot is next

April 9, 2002 

Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. of the state Supreme Court sought to quash rumors that Republican activists have been lobbying the court to overturn the legislative districts created by the General Assembly.

Lake said it would be "entirely inappropriate" for anyone to contact any member of the court about the legislative redistricting case that is pending before it.

"We always refuse to talk to anybody who tries to bring up a case that is pending before this court or might in the future come before this court," Lake said.

The case involves a challenge by Republican lawmakers to the legislative districts drawn by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

Lake said that when the justices had lunch last week, none of them mentioned receiving any calls about the case.

"I'm very confident that I would know if that was happening," Lake said.

Bill Cobey, chairman of the state Republican Party, said the rumors were "absolutely, totally untrue."

"I'm not sure all Republicans are happy with the lawsuit," Cobey said, explaining how the rumors might be spread.

"I'm concerned about rumors I've heard about Democrats trying to influence justices. This is the sort of stuff that will circulate around."

The seven-member court has five Republicans, including Lake, and two Democrats.

Supremes, live and in color

The Supreme Court expects a lot of interest in the April 4 hearing on the constitutionality of the state's legislative districts.

Lawyers for the Republican plaintiffs and the state will present oral arguments to the justices. The court is allowing 20 seats for the media, rather than six as previously planned. The court plans to allow UNC-TV to broadcast the hearing live on statewide public television.

"The court specifically said they wanted more press involved," said Dick Ellis, a spokesman for the court. "It's going to be historic."

New U.S. marshal named

Charles Reavis is the new U.S. marshal for the eastern district of North Carolina. He was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate this month.

Reavis, 57, originally from Winston-Salem, comes to the marshal service from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, where he worked more than 20 years.

He spent the past three years as the resident agent in charge of the DEA office in Raleigh, which had responsibility for federal drug enforcement in 36 counties of Eastern North Carolina.

Reavis, who lives in Apex, spent five years in the DEA headquarters office in Arlington, Va. During that time, he got to know U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, who supported his appointment as marshal.

"One of the jobs I had, I worked in our congressional and public affairs office and had lots of dealings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill," Reavis said.

"That is how I began to know the senator. He has some family near Winston-Salem. I recontacted the senator when I was assigned to Raleigh to let him know I'm here."

Reavis, who earlier in his career worked for the Forsyth County Sheriff's Department, said he was honored by his selection.

"It's a great honor to be a presidential appointee in any position, Reavis said. "I feel very honored to have received the appointment."

Reavis replaces former marshal Mark Tucker, an appointee during the administration of President Clinton.

Staff writer Wade Rawlins can be reached at 829-4528 or wrawlins@newsobserver.com.

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