WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – When a judge agreed to an order for arrest for New Hanover County Commission Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman, many people following the story assumed she would be arrested and spend weekends in jail.
So it came as a surprise to many when her attorney sent WECT a motion showing the North Carolina State Bar agreed to a motion that would lift that arrest order for 21 days.
To be clear, a motion does not mean the order has been lifted. A judge has to first approve a motion for it to go into effect. Neither the State Bar nor Olson-Boseman can do this on their own.
The question of whether the leniency and yet another chance for Olson-Boseman has anything to do with her position of power in New Hanover County and if she is getting preferred treatment has been asked.
Olson-Boseman has had since March to turn over banking records to aid the NCSB’s investigation into mismanaging client funds, and depositing insurance payouts meant for her clients into her own personal bank account. Until now, she has not complied with the order.
She missed two court dates where she would have been given an opportunity to present her side of the case, and possibly avoid the contempt of court ruling from a judge. The NCSB told a judge they tried to avoid filing for contempt — but left with no answers and no documents, it was the next thing they could do to try and get those records.
As to the question of privilege and if this is some sort of favor from the state, although it might look that way for some, it’s unlikely that her position plays a role in the NCSB’s willingness to ask a judge to lift the order.
Civil contempt of court, which is what Olson-Boseman was found to be in, is not a criminal charge. It’s a tool used to get compliance from someone disobeying a court order, and in this case, the State Bar is more interested in getting those documents than seeing Olson-Boseman in jail for contempt.
That’s not to say Olson-Boseman will avoid any consequences completely. The ongoing investigation regarding the mismanagement of client funds is just one investigation the NCSB is looking into.
They aren’t the only state agency looking into her either.
The State Bureau of Investigation also is tasked with addressing any criminal elements involved with her actions, and in 2021 a criminal complaint was filed with the Wilmington Police Department by a man who said he hired her to represent him — but she took $20,000 from him and never did any work for him — and then retired.
Even if Olson-Boseman avoids jail for the contempt ruling, the investigations will continue. If any criminal activity is discovered and evidence can prove it, the state is ready to prosecute, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said recently.
“We both requested that the SBI take a look at this case, and further, that outside prosecutors with the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys and Raleigh handle any criminal violations that might be unearthed,”, David said, referring to himself and Wilmington Police Department Chief of Police Donny Williams.
While many people have voiced their concerns about the time it is taking to complete these investigations, David wants people to know that the system takes time, but by sending the case off to Raleigh, the possible conflicts of interest, and any perceived leniency due to her position of power within the county won’t play a role in the investigations.
“It doesn’t happen as quickly as some people would like. But I promise you that this has occupied a very high priority for the people, the professionals who are involved in it. And we wanted to make sure that there was integrity in the system by involving people who have no economic ties, or professional relationships or perceived friendships, that this would be done based on the facts in the law,” he said.
For now, if a judge agrees to the motion submitted, Olson-Boseman will likely stay out of jail if she does comply with the preliminary injunction. As for the other investigations, the acquisition of these records could start moving them along a little bit faster.
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