Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Few candidates entangled in civil court records


A handful of the candidates in local races in the November general election have been sued, both in small claims and in superior court, based on an Alamance News review of documents filed in Alamance County’s courts system.

The Alamance News reviewed these disputes using the civil court database at the county’s Historic Court House in Graham, as well as a statewide repository for civil litigation, and case files that remain on file with the Clerk of Court’s office.

In each case, the newspaper has only included case files which match both the candidate’s full name and current and previous addresses, when known.

The newspaper did not conduct searches for candidates who are running unopposed or for those seeking the office of soil and water conservation supervisor. Also omitted from the review are previous and/or ongoing suits that have been filed, or are currently pending, against incumbents in their official capacities on the boards who are seeking reelection, which have been reported on in earlier editions of The Alamance News.

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Legislative candidates
The county’s civil court files contains no record of any past or current litigation that has been filed against the three incumbent state legislators – Republican Amy Scott Galey, who represents the state’s 25th senate district; Democrat Ricardo Alcides Hurtado, who represents the 63rd house district; and Republican Dennis Patrick Riddell, who represents the state’s 64th house district – who are seeking reelection.

The newspaper was unable to find any record of past or current litigation filed against the three challengers in those sane legislative races: Democratic state senate candidate Sean Charles Ewing; Republican Stephen Miles Ross, who formerly represented the 63rd house district and now hopes to unseat Hurtado, who successfully challenged Ross in 2020; or Democratic state house candidate Ronald Gray Osborne, Jr.

Candidates for sheriff
Incumbent sheriff Terry Johnson, a Republican, has been sued numerous times in his capacity as sheriff and remains one of the defendants in ongoing litigation over the Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Graham in 2020; he has also been the target of litigation filed over matters outside his authority as sheriff, such as the county’s bail policies, which are set by the county’s judges and court officials.

The newspaper has been unable to locate any record of any lawsuits against the Democratic candidate for sheriff, Kelly Tyrone White, in Guilford County, where he previously lived, or in Forsyth County, where he is currently employed as the deputy chief/deputy director for police and public safety at Winston Salem State University. Nor do any lawsuits appear to have been filed against White in Alamance County.

Commissioner candidates
The three candidates for the two seats on Alamance County’s board of commissioners – incumbent Republicans Steven Jeffery Carter and William Craig Turner, as well as Democrat Anthony Ramon Pierce – have had few disputes that wound up in the civil court system.

Only two cases identified Turner, who is employed as a litigation and construction law attorney, as a party to a civil matter. Turner and his then-wife, Reba Suzanne Tuner filed a complaint for money owed and an eviction proceeding in Alamance County small claims court in 2015 against defendants listed as David Mark Ferrell and Kristine W. Ferrell. The civil courts database shows that the plaintiffs were awarded a judgment of $1,649.31 plus interest and court costs on March 18, 2015 but gives no other details.

Craig Turner was also listed as the plaintiff when he filed for divorce from Suzanne Turner in 2019, according to Alamance County court files.


School board candidates
Alamance-Burlington school board candidate Chuck Marsh, who owns two radio stations, has been sued, both in his personal and professional capacity, seven times since 2014, based on Alamance County civil court files.

On April 2, 2014, an eviction complaint was filed in Alamance County small claims court against Marsh and his wife, Rebecca Marsh, by a company listed as IH3 Property NC, according to the civil courts database. That case was voluntarily dismissed two weeks later, on April 16, 2014.

On February 22, 2016, Chuck Marsh was listed as the sole defendant in a suit filed in small claims court by TCS Event Rentals, the address for which is not listed on the courts system database. Event Rentals was awarded a judgment of $2,110.52, plus interest, against Marsh on March 16, 2016.

Chuck Marsh and Rebecca Marsh were sued twice in 2017 by a company listed as Lendmark Financial Services. Lendmark filed two complaints for money owed against the couple: on March 24, 2017 and on May 8, 2017. The first complaint was dismissed on April 19, 2017.

The second complaint that Lendmark filed in early May 2017 was involuntarily dismissed later the same month, on May 24, 2017. A deputy clerk of court attributed the involuntarily dismissal to the likelihood that Lendmark (or a representative) had failed to appear for a hearing in small claims court.

Ford Motor Credit Company also filed a suit against Marsh and his wife on August 19, 2017, for what was described as a “collection on account.” That suit was voluntarily dismissed on September 11, 2017, according to the civil courts database.

Marsh and his companies were listed as defendants in two suits filed in small claims court earlier this year.

On February 14, 2022 Bulldog Mobile Media, of 326 St. Nicholas Trail in Gibsonville, filed a complaint for money owed against Marsh and Maverick Radio to collect $375 for goods sold and delivered on October 23, 2021. The plaintiff, Richard W. Orcutt of Bulldog Mobile Media, voluntarily dismissed the complaint on March 7 of this year, according to a notice of dismissal included in the court file.

Scott Hedren of 820 Whitsett Avenue in Gibsonville filed a small claims suit against Chuck Marsh and Lynchburg Media Partners (for which the address is listed as 422 Huffman Mill Road, Suite 207, Burlington) on April 22, 2022 over one share of ownership in Lynchburg Media Partners, “in the amount of $5,000,” the complaint states.

On May 25, 2022, Alamance County chief magistrate judge Jeffrey Hollan entered an order, concluding that Hedren was entitled to recover nothing and also ordered him to pay court costs. Hollan entered no findings in the matter, according to the court file.

Leonard Robert Harrison, who announced earlier this month that he was withdrawing from the school board race, has been sued several times since 2014.

Most notably, the Internal Revenue Service obtained a judgment of $25,714 against Harrison and his wife, Amy Harrison, in March 2014 after filing a federal tax lien for unpaid personal income taxes for 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. That lien was canceled in March 2020, indicating that the debt had been repaid, according to the court file.

The IRS also obtained a filed a lien of $3,473.65 against Harrison and his wife in February 2014 for unpaid personal income taxes for 2006; that court file does not indicate whether the debt has been repaid.

The newspaper was unable to locate any record of civil suits having been filed in Alamance County against any of the other four school board candidates: Dan Winslow Ingle; Charles Bernard Parker; Seneca Damon Rogers; and Avery Harris Wagoner.

See related story: Most past “criminal” charges against candidates involve driving infractions: 

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