QUESTION: Have Alamance County’s commissioners selected an out-of-state lawyer to serve as their new county attorney despite the candidate’s lack of certification to practice law in North Carolina?
ANSWER: Even without an in-house legal counsel to advise them to remain silent, Alamance County’s leaders have been rather tight lipped about their ongoing quest for a new county attorney.
The county’s board of commissioners has nevertheless been actively looking for someone to take over this post ever since they ordered their former attorney Clyde Albright to clear out his office – some two days after they resolved to dismiss him during a closed-door meeting on October 4.
The county attorney’s post was presumably the subject of a closed session that the commissioners held last Wednesday and Thursday in order to “to conduct interviews” for an unspecified position.
This two-day interview session took place more than two months after the county wrapped up the application period for Albright’s would-be successors. The period’s conclusion was followed, in short order, by a public update from Debra Bechtel, a retired county attorney and associate with the Teague Campbell Law Firm who has served as Alamance County’s interim attorney since Albright’s dismissal.
On December 20, Bechtel revealed that the candidates for the county attorney’s position included some contenders who didn’t even have law degrees. She nevertheless expressed more confidence in the “quality” of other applicants, who she said would be vetted and interviewed by a selection committee that would include two of the five county commissioners.
Last week’s interview session was apparently the first time that all of the commissioners have had an opportunity to meet with one or more of the candidates for the county attorney’s position. But just what came out of these face-to-face encounters is something that the commissioners are keeping quite close to the vest.
John Paisley, Jr., the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners wouldn’t even confirm that an offered had been made and accepted when he spoke to a reporter about the county attorney’s position on Wednesday. Paisley also declined to comment on the suggestion that the board’s favored candidate is an out-of-state lawyer who would effectively have to serve as Bechtel’s understudy until he or she is certified by the North Carolina state bar.
“Under state law, the county attorney has to be licensed to practice law in North Carolina,” Paisley acknowledged. “But that isn’t meant to confirm anything you asked.”
Paisley went on to add that the commissioners would make no formal announcement about the attorney’s post before their next regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday.
See another Public Asks question in this week’s edition, Was ABSS child nutrition director fired for bringing a gun to work? https://alamancenews.com/was-the-abss-child-nutrition-director-fired-for-bringing-a-gun-to-work/
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