by Barry Smith
Bob Orr, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the lawsuit challenging Opportunity Scholarships, said there was no attempt to strategically calculate the timing of the legal action to try to disrupt the program in its first year.
“It’s certainly no gamesmanship on the part of the plaintiffs,” Orr said Tuesday. In a CJ Online article, scholarships supporter Darrell Allison remarked at the timing of the filing of the lawsuit happened five to six months after the Opportunity Scholarships program was enacted. When the final decision by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood was issued in late August, students who had been awarded scholarships had either already started the new school year or were preparing to do so.
Orr, a former N.C. Supreme Court justice, said that such civil cases take time and that he was happy that the trial court phase of the litigation was complete less than a year from the time it was filed.
In the Opportunity Lawsuits case, Orr said time was needed between the lawyers and prospective clients to research the possibility of filing a lawsuit. Since his client in the case, the N.C. School Boards Association, had a board of directors, it had to approve the lawsuit.
Orr also said that other actions in the case took time, including intervening motions and motions heard in the state’s appellate courts.
Scheduling also comes into play, Orr said, noting that there was a need to coordinate hearing dates between the presiding judge and attorneys for both the plaintiffs and defendants.