State Board of Elections to hear challenge to Lyerly Aug. 22

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
The State Board of Elections will hear the challenge to the candidacy of Laura Lyerly on Aug. 22.
Salisbury attorney James “Pete” Hoffman is protesting Lyerly’s place on the ballot as a Democratic candidate for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Hoffman contends that Lyerly’s plea of guilty to embezzlement in 1998 make her ineligible to run for or hold public office under the N.C. Constitution.
Lyerly received a prayer for judgment continued, a deferred sentence.
Hoffman is appealing the July 29 decision of the Rowan County Board of Elections which ruled that a prayer for judgment does not constitute a conviction under state law.
In his appeal, Hoffman cited a case in which the N.C. Supreme Court held that “a guilty plea in this particular case, a PJC, is equivalent to a conviction.”
Lyerly, 29, of 8665 U.S. 601, has expressed regret over the incident. She was working a summer job at Kmart when it happened.
Lyerly has said repeatedly she doesn’t think the prayer for judgment should preclude her from being on the ballot.
This will apparently be the first time the State Board of Elections has considered the question of a prayer for judgment in relation to the qualifications for public office.
“We have never had a challenge on those grounds,” Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the state elections office, said Tuesday. McLean said she has worked with the State Board of Elections since 1985. During that time there hasn’t been a challenge on the grounds of a prayer for judgment, and there is no record of such a challenge previously.
In May, District Attorney Bill Kenerly asked the N.C. Attorney General’s Office for an opinion on the matter. As of Tuesday, no opinion had been issued.
The hearing will be at 10 a.m. on Aug. 22 at the State Board of Elections, 406 N. Harrington St., Raleigh.