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Cline v. Hoke

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

December 16, 2014

TRACEY CLINE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DAVID HOKE, Individually and as the Custodian of the Public Records Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 132-2, Defendant-Appellee

Heard in the Court of Appeals September 25, 2014,

Editorial Note:

This Decision is not final until expiration of the twenty-one day rehearing period. [North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure 32(b)]

Appeal by Plaintiff from order entered 1 November 2013 by Judge Paul G. Gessner in Superior Court, Wake County.

Wake County. No. 13 CVS 10185.

Tracey Cline, Plaintiff-Appellant, Pro se.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, bye Special Deputy Attorneys General Melissa L. Trippe and Amar Majmundar, for Defendant-Appellee.

McGEE, Chief Judge. Judges GEER and STROUD concur.

OPINION

Page 862

McGEE, Chief Judge.

Tracey Cline (" Plaintiff" ) filed an action against David Hoke (" Defendant" ), individually and in his official capacity as assistant director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (" AOC" ), in order to obtain certain AOC emails pursuant to North Carolina's public records law. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff's case, in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. We conclude that Defendant is not the designated custodian of the AOC's public records, and thus we affirm the trial court's dismissal.

I. Background

Plaintiff, a former Durham County district attorney, sought to obtain some emails related to her service as district attorney in preparation to defend a complaint filed against her by the North Carolina State Bar. In the present action, Plaintiff sought certain email exchanges that she alleged were in Defendant's custody. Plaintiff made repeated requests to Defendant and to AOC's general counsel, Pamela Weaver Best (" General Counsel" ), between June and December of 2012 to obtain these emails. Although Plaintiff initially corresponded with both Defendant and General Counsel regarding her public records request, Plaintiff eventually corresponded almost exclusively with General Counsel. During that period of time, Defendant did send Plaintiff a number of the emails she had requested. However, Plaintiff always contended there were additional relevant emails that Defendant had not sent her. Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, individually and in his official capacity as the purported custodian of the public records she was seeking.

Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's case pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 12(b)(6), in part, on the grounds that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The trial court granted Defendant's ...


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