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Exclusive: Spearman’s attorney ends defamation and civil conspiracy lawsuits

By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / August 25, 2022

The attorney for Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman has sent a “Notice of Intent to Voluntarily Dismiss….” the late civil and human rights leader’s lawsuit in Guilford County Superior Court against several members of the NAACP, effectively closing the case.

In a letter dated August 17th, attorney Mark T Cummings of Greensboro sent the notice to attorney Robert E. Harrington of the Charlotte law firm of Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson P.A. The federal lawsuit targeted national NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson, national NAACP Chairman of the Trustee Board Leon Russell, N.C. NAACP Pres. Deborah Dicks Maxwell, Tennessee NAACP Conference Pres. Gloria Sweet-Love, Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP Pres. Corine Mack, Raleigh-Apex NAACP President Gerald Givens and other members, accusing them of defamation, and civil conspiracy to have Spearman removed from office as N.C. NAACP president by allegedly rigging the October 2021 executive election of officers so that he would lose.

It was June 13th when this reporter first and exclusively reported that Spearman, former president of the N.C. NAACP, filed a lawsuit in Guilford County Superior Court, contending that “the Defendants conspired to have Plaintiff (Spearman) removed because of his support of victim of sexual harassment (Ms. Jazmyne Childs) who brought litigation against the National NAACP and an employee/member of the North Carolina State Conference NAACP (Rev. Curtis Gatewood) and because of Plaintiff’s growing national profile stemming from his many successful and high-profile activities on behalf of the People of North Carolina and the N.C. NAACP.”
Gatewood has denied the sexual harassment charge, and is not a defendant in Rev. Spearman’s lawsuit, though he is alluded to.

Spearman maintained that because he stood with Jazmyne Childs publicly when she tearfully accused Pres./CEO Johnson in 2019 of ignoring her repeated cries to suspend Rev. Gatewood after her 2017 sexual harassment allegations were confirmed by an external investigation, Spearman became a target for retribution.”

Cummings noted that “current North Carolina law does not allow for the prosecution of a Defamation Claim after the death of the complaining party.”

Spearman’s attorney continued, “Although we believe that this case would present a good-faith opportunity to test whether existing law should be changed in light of technological and other factors the make the sting of defamatory statements potent even after death, Dr. Spearman’s Estate, which is in the process of formal creation, is not in a position to litigate that issue, and will therefore consent to a voluntary dismissal of the Defamation Claim.”

That part of the letter was no surprise. Atty. Cummings stated several days after Dr. Spearman’s death that he would most likely be withdrawing the defamation portion of the lawsuit because North Carolina would not allow it, but he (Cummings) intended to proceed with the civil conspiracy part.

Cummings’ letter further states, “Moreover, our firm believes that since a Civil Conspiracy Claim must be tied to an independent compensatory claim, and that the Defamation Claim (which would have satisfied this requirement) is not available under current North Carolina law, that claim must also be voluntarily dismissed.”

Atty. Cummings continued, “We do not come to this decision without great pain and deep regret because we believe the defendants were responsible, and a jury would have so found, for defaming Dr. Spearman, and conspiring against him to have him removed unconstitutionally from his Office as President of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP. However, Dr. Spearman’s untimely (and still currently under investigation) death makes it impossible to litigate these claims against the defendants.”

At press time, there was no indication of a response from attorney Harrington. He had previously sought to have the Spearman lawsuit moved to federal court for the Middle District of North Carolina


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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