Trials & Litigation

North Carolina attorney general finally apologizes to his opponent from 2000

Better late than never.

After 14 years, North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper has finally put an end to a feud that stemmed from his initial election to the job he continues to hold. The Charlotte Observer and the Associated Press reported that Cooper apologized to his 2000 opponent, Dan Boyce, and Boyce’s family members for statements made in a Cooper political ad relating to the Boyce family’s now-defunct law firm. With a libel trial looming, Cooper, a potential candidate for North Carolina governor in 2016, released a statement apologizing for the ad while calling Boyce, his father, his sister and brother-in-law “excellent and ethical lawyers and honorable people.”

“To the extent the political TV ad in the 2000 election for attorney general implied anything else, we were wrong and we apologize,” Cooper said in his statement.

The commercial at issue had alleged that Boyce’s firm sued the state and charged taxpayers $28,000 an hour in lawyer fees. Boyce’s father, Gene, a well-known lawyer in the state, had settled a tax case in 1997 and had requested 16 percent of a $146 million settlement for his fee. The judge calculated that the sum, which came out to $23 million, would be equivalent to $28,000 an hour and deemed it outrageously high. The judge, instead, awarded the elder Boyce $1.6 million. Dan Boyce, meanwhile, was not involved in the case.

“My family and I are fortunate, unlike most folks, to have the ability to fight and clear our reputations from such false accusations,” Gene Boyce said in a statement. According to the Observer, the case has bounced around since it was filed in 2000, going through eight rounds of appeals. Cooper had even asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in, without success. The case was set to go to trial later this month. “Not all people can endure over a decade of litigation after being so wrongly and widely attacked,” Boyce said in his statement. “I hope the result we achieved sends a strong message to future politicians. It tells them they are held accountable for false TV ads to the voting public of North Carolina and the United States.”

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