HILLSBOROUGH — An Orange County Superior Court judge has vacated a settlement agreement and underlying lawsuit that centers on the statue of a Confederate soldier known as “Silent Sam” that once stood on the Chapel Hill campus.
‘The court, in this case, will vacate the judgment, ” said Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour. “I am going to find that the judgment is void, that the plaintiff does not have standing and did not have standing.”
“Because of a lack of standing determined by the court, that being the law of this case, the court will further dismiss the lawsuit,” said Baddour.
Baddour said he would issue the order in writing and filed as soon as possible.
According to the court proceedings on the matter, it was stated that $52,000 of the trust fund in the agreement has already been spent. Baddour said his order would request an accounting of the funds be provided, including what may have been already spent to determine what amount needed to be refunded.
Silent Sam was dedicated in 1913 and stood on the UNC Chapel Hill campus for over 100 years. The statue was a commemoration of the school’s alumni and faculty who fought and died for the Confederacy. The statue was toppled by protesters in August of 2018 and was removed to an undisclosed storage location.
Following the toppling of the statue, the UNC Board of Governors announced an agreement transferring the Silent Sam to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The agreement put $2.5 million in a private fund which UNC officials say does not use public monies.
The agreement stipulated that the money be used for preservation expenses, transportation costs and the potential construction of a building to store it. In addition, the agreement also barred putting the statue in any of the 14 counties where UNC System schools are located.
The agreement between the Board of Governors came after a judge entered a consent judgment in Nov. 2018 involving a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans against the UNC System and the Board of Governors over the statue.
In mid-December of 2019, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion to set aside the $2.5 million consent judgment issued between the Board of Governors and the North Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. That motion was denied by Baddour, citing lack of standing by UNC faculty, students and the Lawyers Committee to bring the motion, but the judge also questioned the standing of the Sons of Confederacy in the settlement.
The deal between the Board of Governors and the Sons of the Confederacy group has been an ongoing controversy since its announcement following closed-door meetings that took place last year just before Thanksgiving.