Gov. Pat McCrory is not immune from a lawsuit in which media organizations and others have accused his administration of dragging its feet or not responding to requests for public records, an appeals court panel ruled.
A coalition of media companies, including The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer, and others have sued asking the court to order the McCrory administration to find ways to ensure swifter delivery of public records.
In a ruling released on Tuesday, a three-judge N.C. Court of Appeals panel rejected an appeal by the governor saying he had “sovereign immunity” and could not be sued over a claim that is not specificallly spelled out in law. Such protections, McCrory’s attorneys contended, should shield the governor from the broader claims in the media coalition’s lawsuit.
The appeals court ruled that not only had the governor and his attorneys failed to raise that defense in Superior Court, but that he was conflating two different pieces of law.
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The appeals court ruling, written by Judge Linda Stephens, means the case could move forward in trial court, absent a review by the state Supreme Court.