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The Silent Sam Settlement is Out: What’s next for the BOG?

The same judge who approved the controversial deal has voided the settlement.

This week an Orange County Superior Court Judge voided the settlement that awarded $2.5 million to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Judge Allen Baddour, who initially agreed to the controversial deal between the UNC System and the SCV in November, dismissed the case, ruling that the Sons of Confederate Veterans did not have legal standing.

The original settlement, announced the day before Thanksgiving, drew immediate ire from students, faculty, and notable alumni, 88 of whom submitted a brief with their legal concerns over the settlement, arguing that it “misused university funds.” After public outcry, the judge decided to reopen the case in December to consider whether the SCV had legal standing to file a complaint against UNC.

Where does the BOG stand? In December, UNC BOG Chairman Randy Ramsey called the challenge “irresponsible.” He and other members of the BOG who were on the Silent Sam Task Force penned an opinion piece in support of the settlement. They wrote that they knew the SCV was “prepared to pursue legal action that could mean the return of the monument to campus” and made the case that “our approach offered a lawful and lasting path that ensures the monument never returns to campus.”

In late January, WBTV obtained text messages between Judge Allen Baddour and an attorney for the UNC BOG that revealed Baddour had “frequent contact” with the attorney who represented the UNC BOG before the case was even filed. In a series of exchanges, it appears that the UNC System attorney knew that the UNC BOG voted to approve a settlement that had not yet been filed in court. The BOG spokesman maintained that nothing improper had occurred. According to court records, Baddour approved the settlement an hour after he had a phone conversation with Ripley Rand, UNC System counsel.

This week, Rand said that the ruling to overturn the settlement was “not what the system had hoped for.”

“The Board of Governors knew from the very beginning that this was a difficult but needed solution to meet all their goals to protect public safety of the University community, restore normality to campus, and be compliant with the Monuments Law,” Rand said in a statement. “The Board of Governors will move forward with these three goals at the forefront and will go back to work to find a lasting and lawful solution to the dispute over the monument.”

Hopefully, whatever solution the BOG comes up with will not involve giving millions to a group that valorizes a confederate, white supremacist, past.