in Checking In, Media, Politics

Hallie sues NC to hear her climate change petition

N&O photo by Harry Lynch

N&O photo by Harry Lynch

Update 26 Nov: Judge Morgan has ruled against Hallie. Details in a few weeks.

It’s been an interesting few days here. For the past two years, Hallie has been involved with an effort to bring about some state regulations on climate-change pollution. With the help of an Oregon-based nonprofit called Our Childrens’ Trust, Hallie filed a petition with the state Environmental Management Commission, urging it to regulate greenhouse gases. In spite of the petition meeting all the requirements to be heard by the full commission, Hallie’s petition was rejected outright by the chair without due consideration, thus the lawsuit.

Yesterday was her day in court, appearing before Superior Court judge Michael Morgan. Hallie has a great team of attorneys (Gayle Tuch, Ryke Longest, and Shannon Arata) working pro-bono to move this case forward and they vigorously pressed her case before Judge Morgan. Our whole family was in attendance as well as Hallie’s maternal grandparents, who drove down from Virginia to surprise her.

The case was to be heard at 9:30 AM in Wake Courtroom 5C. There was a crowd of people in the courtroom as the time approached and a gaggle of press set up in the jury box. Kelly’s parents, Travis, and I sat in the front row of the gallery while Kelly and Hallie took their seats at the tables in front of the judge.

Judge Morgan arrived and got right to work. There were two other cases on the docket, one being the famous “Possum Drop” case and another regarding a pending eviction. Judge Morgan worked to clear the decks of the quickest cases and so heard the Possum Drop case first, which was quickly dispatched with a continuation motion filed by the state. The eviction case proceeded nearly as quickly with the petitioners requesting and receiving a temporary restraining order to extend their stay for another 6 days. After a short break, Hallie’s case began at 10:35 AM.

Hallie’s attorneys presented her case first, laying out the timeline of events and detailing the meticulous care that was put into preparing Hallie’s petition. The judge listened carefully to the arguments and then turned to the defense for response. In my layman’s opinion, the state’s defense seemed flat and unconvincing, often lacking answers to the questions Judge Morgan posed. Throughout it all, Hallie remained poised at the table.

Once the closing arguments were made, the judge announced that he would need some time to render a decision, saying he would rule by Thanksgiving. He then addressed Hallie directly, saying no matter which way he ruled he was impressed with her willingness to make a difference in the world. It was a nice compliment.

Immediately afterward, Hallie and the media gathered outside the courtroom for an interview. I have to admit, seeing my daughter surrounded by a scrum of reporters gave me a brief panic attack! Then I relaxed because this is Hallie we’re talking about. She’s fearless and can speak for herself. I put away the urge to stand beside her and watched instead from the sideline and you know what? She did great. We stayed at the courthouse long enough for Hallie to interview with an Al Jazeera TV crew before walking down Fayetteville Street (with camera filming us as we went) back to our car.

With the day’s real work done, we went out for a celebratory lunch before crashing at our home for the rest of the day. It takes a surprising amount of energy to sit through a legal proceeding. I have great admiration for those who do it every day, both those who work in the court system and those who work in the media.

Hallie has taken this all in stride. She was poised in the courtroom as well as in front of the cameras. She didn’t care to follow all the media about her and just wants to return to her everyday life, though she’s ready to pick up the case again should things proceed. I’m proud of how she’s handled herself.

Her day in court has been covered by the Independent Weekly, ABC11, WRAL-TV, Al Jazeera, the News and Observer, and Time Warner Cable News (statewide). Sadly and predictably, the knuckle-draggers have crawled out from under their rocks, too, but more on that in a future post.

I’m very proud of Hallie! Now, we’ll see what the judge has to say and see if this journey continues.