Jul 26, 2022 - News

Judge rules in N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein's favor

Attorney General Josh Stein at a 2016 campaign event
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaking at a campaign event in 2016. Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled in Attorney General Josh Stein's favor yesterday by temporarily blocking a law that the state used to investigate him.

Catch up quick: Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill, Stein's opponent in the 2020 election for North Carolina AG, accused Stein's campaign of violating a century-old law that prohibits anyone from publishing or circulating knowingly false, derogatory information about candidates.

  • In a complaint filed with the state board of elections, O'Neill argued that an ad Stein's campaign ran violated that law.

Driving the news: The complaint triggered a criminal investigation. Attorneys representing Stein's campaign argued in court yesterday that the law at the center of that investigation is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling is a win for Stein, who is both the state's top law enforcement officer and the second most powerful Democrat, after Gov. Roy Cooper.

  • Stein could have faced prosecution for violating the law had the judge not issued a temporary restraining order on the law.

The intrigue: The investigation is now in the hands of Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman's office. Freeman, who is also a Democrat, has recused herself from the case, the N&O reported.

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