Commissioner in New Hanover County reinstated by judge

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 06:40 AM

WILMINGTON — A North Carolina judge has reinstated a New Hanover County commissioner who was removed from office earlier this year.

Superior Court Judge James Gale ruled Thursday that Brian Berger should be allowed to resume his place on the commission.

His fellow commissioners used something called an amotion proceeding to remove Berger in May by a 3-2 vote. It had been nearly a century since a North Carolina official was removed that way. The commissioners said Berger showed erratic behavior and threatened county workers.

The judge ruled the commissioners based their decision in part on personal experiences that were not properly entered as evidence.

The judge did affirm the way the county held the proceeding in May, clearing the way to possibly remove Berger with during another hearing.

Gale said he found no indication of bias on the part of the other commissioners.

"The ultimate conclusions were infected by the insertion of personal experiences of the fact finder that were not presented in the form of evidence and subject to the hearing procedures attendant to the presentation of other evidence," Gale wrote.

Commission attorney Jonathan Martin he's pleased with the fact that Gale upheld the procedure.

Chairman Woody White says he expects the board to try again.