Appeals judge recuses himself from North Carolina voter ID case

Judge Christopher Brook. Image credit: NC Courts

RALEIGH — A North Carolina appeals court judge won’t participate in any deliberations over litigation that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s latest voter photo identification law.

The state Court of Appeals announced that Judge Christopher Brook recused himself from the voter ID case, Holmes v. Moore. Brook was appointed to the court last April by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.

The recusal was made known a few days after Republican lawmakers filed a motion seeking Brook be left out of the matter because of his previous work as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer fighting against a 2013 voter ID law.

The public would have questioned Brook’s impartiality should he have participated, according to the recusal motion filed last week by lawmakers.

Brook also was a former staff attorney for Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which was the organization that filed the Holmes v. Moore suit in Wake County. The case challenged the legislation passed in support of a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018.

The court said on Monday that the Republican lawmakers’ motion was moot because Brook already had recused himself. Brook’s recusal order did not give a reason.

“The motion filed in this cause on the 5th of March 2020 and designated ‘Legislative Defendants-Appellees’ Motion to Recuse Judge Brook’ is dismissed as moot as Judge Brook has already recused himself in this matter,” the order reads.

“These and other facts laid out below raise a reasonable question of impartiality and thus form a firm ground for Judge Brook’s disqualification,” state lawmakers wrote to the court on Friday, March 6.

“North Carolina’s voter ID law was recently upheld by a bipartisan trial court, and the people deserve another impartial hearing of the full Court of Appeals to vindicate their voice in the democratic process that has been blocked by an all-liberal activist panel of judges,” said Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) in a press statement issued the same day as the recusal motion.

Three other judges from the 15-member Court of Appeals ruled last month that the updated photo ID requirement approved in 2018 shouldn’t be implemented. Following that ruling at the end of February, lawmakers filed a motion for an en banc hearing, asking the full court to rehear the case and rule whether the panel got it wrong.

The remaining 14 judges have yet to announce whether they will hear the preliminary injunction matter. The case ultimately could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About A.P. Dillon 1127 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_