In what appears to be a first for the City of Greensboro, one mayoral candidate has filed a lawsuit against another mayoral candidate.

Greensboro has had some fairly heated mayoral races with accusations going back and forth, but they have not risen to the level of lawsuits.

On Friday, April 8, mayoral candidate Eric Robert filed a lawsuit in North Carolina Superior Court against the City of Greensboro, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Manager Tai Jaiyeobo in their official capacities.

Vaughan has filed to run for reelection and is facing Robert, City Councilmember Justin Outling and Mark Cummings in the May 17 primary.

The lawsuit filed by Robert, who is representing himself, alleges that the City of Greensboro has not provided public records requested by Robert in a timely manner and asks the court to compel the City of Greensboro to provide those public documents.

The North Carolina Public Records Law states that copies of public records should be provided “as promptly as possible.”

According to the lawsuit, Robert has requested a number of documents about gun shows at the Greensboro Coliseum and, more specifically, why the gun shows were no longer being held at the Greensboro Coliseum.

However, Robert has obviously been provided with a key document about gun shows at the Greensboro Coliseum because Robert quotes portions of the memo in his lawsuit and includes the full memo in his press release about the lawsuit.

That document is a memo from City Attorney Chuck Watts to the City Council dated Jan. 21, 2020.  In that memo, Watts notes that the city does have the authority to regulate gun shows at the Greensboro Coliseum based on North Carolina General Statute 14-409.40, which prohibits municipalities from regulating gun shows because, “Subsection (f) of the statute carves out an exception for the regulation of possession of firearms in public-owned buildings.”

Watts states that the city has an existing ordinance that prohibits the possession of firearms on city owned property and while the city could waive this ordinance in order to allow gun shows at the Greensboro Coliseum, it is not required to do so.

Robert states in his lawsuit that he has requested documents concerning gun shows at the Greensboro Coliseum that the city has in its possession but will not provide him.

According to the lawsuit, the city has stated that some of these documents don’t exist and others cannot be found.

It is a common problem in requesting public documents that it is difficult for the requestor to describe in detail a document they don’t have but have reason to believe does exist.  It is one reason that requests for public records are often extremely broad with the requestor hoping that the broad net will capture the one or two documents that are the reason for the request.