State of Emergency Opinion

This is written by our friend of the Party Dale Hodson, and was published in the Website Viewpoint section.


State of Emergency Illegal Since 2020 in Orange County?

A perspective from Dale Hodson

I’m a resident of Orange County and Chapel Hill, and I’m NOT an attorney.

I have bad news for Orange County residents, businesses, and organizations that have been harmed by the COVID restrictions imposed by the County: It didn’t have to happen.

Regardless of the restrictions that the State of North Carolina has imposed, I believe that the March 13, 2020 Orange County “State of Emergency” declaration, and all amendments to it, legally ended after March 18, 2020 – nearly two full years ago.

Because of that, I believe that all of the restrictions, shutdowns, and stay-at-home orders issued by the County over the last two years have been invalid and probably illegal after March 18, 2020.

Why do I believe this?

Because the original declaration and each subsequent amendment and extension are in contradiction to the Orange County Code of Ordinances.

Section 14-40 of the Code states: “… Any proclamation issued under this article shall expire five days after its last imposition …”

Again, listen to those words: “shall expire five days after its last imposition”

The Code doesn’t say that the five day expiration is a guide, or a suggestion, or that a proclamation “might expire,” or “could expire” – the Code says “shall expire.”

And “shall expire” is an order, not a choice.

I understand the desire by the Board Chair to incorporate phrases such as “shall remain in effect until it is rescinded,” but I believe such phrases violate Orange County law.

The invalid language in the Declaration: “shall remain in effect until it is rescinded” gives the purposeful impression that the Declaration could go on forever, and certainly longer than the statutory limit of “five days.”

For the entire two years since the Declaration was first published, the Board and others have purposely given the impression that a valid County “State of Emergency” existed.

If the County wanted a State of Emergency longer than five days, it would have been a simple matter:

Just issue a new declaration every five days.

For the last two years, thousands of County residents and businesses have been harmed by these invalid emergency declarations.

I would think that County residents and businesses might seek legal recourse for the mental, emotional, physical, and financial harm they have incurred since the expiration of the Declaration two years ago.

It doesn’t matter that the State of North Carolina was under a State of Emergency during this period, because County restrictions went beyond what the State mandated.

I request that the Orange County Board of County Commissioners publicly display and send a statement to the media saying that the original “State of Emergency” declaration legally expired after March 18, 2020, and that all subsequent Amendments were invalid because there was no legal Orange County “State of Emergency” declaration in effect when the various amendments were declared.