Judge Will Reconsider $2.5M Settlement In Silent Sam Case

Dec 20, 2019

Updated at 2:45 p.m.

A Superior Court judge will reconsider the $2.5 million settlement between the UNC System and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The judge's decision today was a small victory for the UNC Chapel Hill students and professor who sought to overturn the settlement.

Judge Allen Baddour denied their request to become a party to the case. However, he said there are new questions about the agreement he approved in November.

"The court does have, as the matter has developed, some concerns or questions about some of the legal issues presented, and it bears further examination," Baddour said Friday.

In their pre-hearing filings, attorneys for the students and faculty member argued the Sons of Confederate Veterans didn't own the monument that had stood on the Chapel Hill campus.

Baddour said he will now reconsider whether the group had standing to file their original complaint against UNC. The settlement gave them possession of Silent Sam and funding to maintain the statue. He may also decide to require court oversight of the $2.5 million trust granted to group.

Attorneys with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law represent six UNC-Chapel Hill students and one professor, who argue the deal that gave the Sons of Confederate Veterans $2.5 million for the preservation of the Silent Sam statue goes against the university's mission and harms students and faculty.

"We do want to claim a victory," said UNC Chapel Hill student De'Ivyion Drew. "We do appreciate having that second look, that necessary second look."

The intervenors said the settlement misuses funds that could be used for student scholarships or other purposes central to UNC-Chapel Hill's mission and that the Board of Governors' actions will hurt the university's ability to recruit and retain students and faculty of color.

UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey has called the challenge "irresponsible." He and other members of the board said they negotiated the settlement in the interest of student safety.