Kirk Rivers Case
Councilman Rivers is one of two remaining African American City Council members in Elizabeth City, NC, a community with an over 50% African American population. The challenges to his residency and council seat have been brought by Mr. Gilbert, the husband of the candidate he beat in the election. Mr. Gilbert also unsuccessfully challenged the right to vote of several African-American Elizabeth City State University students in the fall 2007 election.
Rivers has lived in the 4th Ward his entire life, and has served as their representative for the past 8 years. Last year he and his fiancee purchased a home in the 4th Ward, but after their marriage were unable to move to their new home on Hampton Drive, because of unresolved inspection issues. Until the needed repairs were completed, he stayed at his wife’s parents home outside the 4th Ward – but never redirected his mail to this address or intended it to be his permanent residence.
He was originally challenged on his eligibility to vote in the municipal elections. The consequence of him losing the residency challenge was that he would also lose his seat as a city councilman.
On March 26, 2008 the Board of Elections ruled against Mr. Rivers. As a result, the City Council declared his seat vacant and scheduled a special election to elect a replacement.
SCSJ agreed to represent Mr. Rivers, and urged the Superior Court to grant a stay of the Board of Elections order. Mr. Rivers is currently still serving as city councilman.
Rivers and his family began moving into his home on Hampton Drive in the 4th ward in early April.
Kirk and Nina participated in early voting on May 2nd, and changed their address on their voter registration at that time.
A second challenge was then filed by Mr. Gilbert, alleging that their voter registration change of address during the May primary was improper. The challengers wanted to see Mr. and Mrs. Rivers prosecuted for perjury.
Because the challenge was not filed on the day the vote was cast or 25 days prior to the election, the board of elections could only determine his residency as it related to the next election and not the primary which had already passed. At a hearing before the Board, SCSJ pro bono volunteer attorney Chris Brook represented Mr. and Mrs. Rivers and successfully demonstrated that they were property registered to vote at their new address in the 4th Ward.
The board of elections unanimously dismissed the challenge but referred the matter to the district attorney.
Breaking News 9/26/08 – Pasquotank County Board of Elections Votes 2-1 to Dismiss Challenge Against Kirk Rivers, challenger Gilbert Vows to Appeal
Breaking News 9/20/08 –
NC NAACP calls on Pasquotank Board of Elections to Stop Witch Hunt Against Rivers and Family
Rivers Complaint Dismissed, Gilbert Plans to Appeal Ruling … The Daily Advance, 9/26/08 http://www.dailyadvance.com/news/rivers-complaint-dismissed-151752.html#comments
24 Called to Testify in Sept 25 Hearing on Rivers Case… The Daily Advance, 9/16/08 http://www.dailyadvance.com/news/24-called-to-testify-in-rivers-case-135172.html
Fourth Ward City Councilman Kirk Rivers won another legal battle Wednesday in his ongoing efforts to fend off claims that he moved out of his ward…. The Daily Advance 7/9/08 http://www.dailyadvance.com/search/content/news/stories/2008/07/09/0710RiversRulingRM.htm
A judge ruled Wednesday that there was a substantial deficiency in an order declaring that Councilman Kirk Rivers had moved outside the city… The Virginia-Pilot 7/9/08 http://hamptonroads.com/2008/07/challenge-elizabeth-city-councilman-returns-local-board
Rivers elections challenges dismissed The Daily Advance, June 06, 2008
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Thursday dismissed two residency challenges against 4th Ward Councilman Kirk Rivers and his wife Nina…. http://southerncoalition.org/page/124789/www.dailyadvance.com