Two schools of justice? Judge accused of domestic violence has case sealed from public view

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CHARLOTTE, NC – A court file that contains allegations of domestic violence against a sitting judge in Mecklenburg County has somehow been sealed from public view, despite another judge ordering it to be available as a public record.

WBTV requested a copy of the case file that alleges sitting District Court Judge Kimberly Best committed acts of domestic violence in 2020.

However, instead of being given a copy, which is required by North Carolina law, they were told the file was not able to be located.

WBTV alleges they first began attempting to get the case file in October of 2021 and were initially told that the staffer could not find the file as it was not where it should be.

The station tried the next day and was told the same, only this time a supervisor directed the news station to contact another staff member who had checked the file out.

When they contacted that staff person, they were told they did not know where it was located.

The news station was perplexed that they were not able to get a copy of the report since Best’s request to have it sealed on February 25, 2020, was denied by former Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell.

In the denial, Caldwell believe that sealing the case file would violate the First Amendment which guarantees access to  the majority of court proceedings.

After several failed attempts to view the file, WBTV contacted the clerk’s office to inquire why the case file was not available for public view. They were told that the file was able to be viewed by the public, but it was currently locked in the Clerk of Courts Office.

A spokeswoman for the clerk’s office, Jessica Davis, sent an email writing:

“Access to this court file is not, nor has it ever been, restricted. Our records will clearly indicate that the file was located and timely made available upon receipt of the request. Any statement to the contrary is false, misleading, and lacks journalistic integrity.”

Davis then addressed the case file being secured in the clerk’s office as something that is perfectly normal. She allegedly wrote:

“As to the location of files, it is not unlawful, unethical, or inappropriate for the Elected Clerk, statutorily charged to protect the security of original documents, to have files in his or her office.

In fact, it is both necessary and commonplace for the Clerk or agents of the Clerk to be in possession of court files.

As the custodian of the record, Clerks exclusively facilitate access of court files whether requested by a member of the public or other court partners to include the judiciary.”

While Davis alleges that the move was something legal and normal for the clerk, WBTV spoke to Brooks Fuller, an attorney who leads the North Carolina Sunshine Center, who disagreed.

According to Fuller, court files should be made available to the public at all times when requested.

Fuller said:

“If court is open and you can go into the courthouse, you should be able to request the file from a clerk and get it in the matter of time that it takes to locate it on the shelves, it shouldn’t be that hard.

“The fact that someone has been going to the courthouse day upon day and that this is stretched over the course of a month or more to try to locate a court file definitely presents a problem for open courts.”

WBTV reached out to Best’s attorney, Charles Everage, to seek comment as to why her case file is not immediately accessible.

Instead of offering an official comment or excuse, the station alleges that Everage advised them that they would sue the news station if they published the story, but did add that Best herself was the victim of domestic violence. The statement from Everage said:

“In the divorce and other criminal proceedings, Judge Best, like many spouses affected by violence, did report being a victim of domestic violence and stalking.”

Although Everage contends that Best was a victim of domestic violence and she reported the issue, WBTV alleges a complete search of police and court records show the opposite.

 
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New Atlanta mayor’s former aide arrested for terroristic threats, tries name-dropping to get out of the situation

ATLANTA, GA – Ali Carter was pulled off an American Airlines flight at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport just prior to the New Year.

Carter was detained by police for an outstanding warrant for terroristic threats issued by a different law enforcement agency in Georgia.

And he was not afraid to let the arresting officers know just exactly who he was, or who he used to be. 

Fox 5 Atlanta reported that Carter allegedly state that he would use his AR-15 if his ex-wife’s boyfriend touched his child again. Police say that the phone call when he made the threat was recorded.

That call was alleged to have occurred in September of 2020. 

According to Fox News, the Atlanta Police Department released bodycam footage of the arrest Tuesday in which Carter can be heard speaking to the officers.

“Do you know who I am?” Carter asked.
The officer responded by repeating Carter’s name.  

“I’m chief of staff to Andre Dickens,” Carter says.

“OK, well you still have a warrant for your arrest,” an officers replied. “What are we supposed to do?”

“Call the mayor, man,” Carter eventually tells one of the officers. “I’m chief of staff to our new mayor, man.”

The problem with Carter’s last statement? It isn’t actually true. 

According to the mayor’s office, Carter doesn’t work for Dickens. 

“The incident in question is based on a warrant from Douglas County and Mayor Dickens has been made aware of the alleged incident,” a spokesperson said.

“While Mr. Carter previously worked for Councilmember Dickens, he is not part of the mayor’s administration and is no longer an employee of the City of Atlanta.”

Andre Dickens is the newly elected mayor of Atlanta. He won a runoff election at the end of November, defeating Felicia Moore.

The two candidates were the last two standing in a race to replace out-going mayor Leisha Lance-Bottoms, who opted not to seek a second term.

She may best be known by her botched handling of the Rayshard Brooks situation after he was shot and killed by police after he stole one of their tasers and tried to use it on the officers.

Lance-Bottoms almost immediately fired the officer that shot and killed Brooks, despite the mountain of video evidence that seems to show the legal justification for the use of deadly force.  More on that below.

Carter was at one time the chief of staff and director of constituent services for Dickens when he was a city councilman. It is unclear when Carter was actually last employed by Dickens. 

Video posted on Carter’s Instagram account show two things. 

One, he made bail. Two, he was at Dicken’s swearing on last Monday. 

Dicken’s has certainly alluded to his relationship with Carter in the past. He has called him his “main man” in one Facebook post.

He praised him in another saying, “You guys exceeded my expectations. Keep serving Atlanta! The dream team of Ali Carter, Emil Runge, and yours truly.”

While there are multiple examples to substantiate the personal and professional relationship that existed between Dickens and Carter. The newly elected mayor seems to be distancing himself from this current episode. 

The detention of Carter on the plane was facilitated by four officers. The arrest report provided to Fox News by the Atlanta Police Department, in part reads:

“On 12-29-2021 at 2322 hours, Officer Pierre, Officer Mitchell, Officer Mack and I, Officer Petreus, responded to gate D23, American Airlines, flight #709 in reference to a warrant from Douglas County Sheriff’s Department for a Mr. Ali Carter. 

Upon arriving, we located Mr. Ali Carter on the aircraft, in seat #11F and he confirmed his identity to police by name. Mr. Carter was informed of the warrant, and he was transported to the police precinct for paperwork to be completed and to receive confirmation of the warrant.

Mr. Carter had a confirmed warrant with extradition from Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, Warrant #20MMH00128 for Terroristic threats and acts which occurred on 09-12-2020, warrant confirmed by ACIC.
ACIC sent the warrant confirmation teletype to Clayton County Jail. Mr. Carter was transported to Clayton County jail without incident.” 

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