Sunday, July 14, 2024

New Hanover County Commissioner Julia Olson-Boseman held in contempt of court

An arrest order has been taken out against New Hanover County Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. (Port City Daily/File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – A judge in Wake County has now issued an arrest order against New Hanover County Commission Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman after ruling she was in contempt of court.

It comes after Olson-Boseman did not appear June 29 and did not attend another contempt hearing Monday morning.

Earlier this year, a judge issued a preliminary injunction against Olson-Boseman, requiring her to comply with a court order to produce financial information, including bank records for multiple accounts. The North Carolina State Bar says she has not done that. The NCSB says the former attorney mismanaged client funds and lied to the organization about her handling of the money.

Monday’s ruling holds Olson-Boseman in civil contempt, which is a tool used by the courts to enforce compliance with a lawful court order.

If Olson-Boseman refuses to comply with the order, she could be forced to serve weekends for the next 90 days in a Wake County jail.

“The court hear by orders that a order for arrest shall issue, that Mrs. Olson Boseman be imprisoned beginning this Friday evening at 6 o’clock p.m. that she shall be released Monday morning at 8 o’clock a.m.,” Judge Norlan Graves said in a Wake County courtroom Monday morning.

WECT has yet to get a response from Olson-Boseman, who has previously said the allegations were a “witch hunt” led by counsel for the NCSB Robert Weston.

Based on social media posts, it appears Olson-Boseman might not even be in the country right now — instead, on vacation in Italy.

Weston was in court on Monday where he made his case to the judge. In order to prove civil contempt, the NCSB had to prove four points, one of which maintains the defendant knew about the injunction. Weston says not only did they send letters and emails to Olson-Boseman, her comments made to the media prove it as well.

“We also know that Ms. Olson-Boseman has made statements to the media about this injunction; I attached that to my motion for an order to show cause,” Weston said.

Two other New Hanover County Commissioners have responded to requests for comments, while a spokesman for the county could not provide a statement at the time of publication.

“We hope that Commissioner Olson-Boseman complies with the court order, but my main focus is doing the work of New Hanover County. The county government continues to be focused on doing the work of the citizens … This is still considered a personal issue for Commissioner Olson-Boseman,” Commissioner Rob Zapple told WECT on a phone call.

Commissioner Deb Hayes echoed the sentiment and said she has no knowledge of the situation with Olson-Boseman, and said she is “100% dedicated to making sure the county business and citizens are taken care of.”

While her legal troubles are personal and not related to the County Commission in any way, there have been questions as to whether or not Olson-Boseman can legally be removed from office. Right now it is unclear what the process would be to remove an elected official, however, it has happened in New Hanover County in the past.

Civil contempt of court is not a felony charge, if convicted of a felony, that could open the door to removal from office. 

Andre Brown, the Chairman of the New Hanover County Democratic Party, released a statement earlier:

“I have not spoken with Julia Olson-Boseman regarding the recent Order holding her in contempt, so I do not have any further details other than what has been reported. It appears Ms. Olson-Boseman has found herself in an untenable position by disregarding the rule of law. I do not know what her rationale was for not showing up for court and defending herself, but she will now have to suffer the consequences for her misconduct.”

Olson-Boseman can prevent going to jail if she complies with the previous court order and provides documents. The judge ordered her to serve her time on the weekends.

Watch investigative journalist Michael Praats’ coverage here.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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