NAACP weighs in on Mobley case

Published 10:25 am Thursday, May 21, 2009

WINTON – New details have come to light, including the involvement of the Hertford County Chapter of the NAACP, into last week’s criminal action against Hertford County Magistrate Leonard Mobley.

At a press conference (dealing with an Economic Rights Summit; that story will appear in a later edition) held Wednesday morning at the Elk’s Shrine in Winton, Hertford County NAACP Chapter President Carl White said his group has asked for an independent investigation of the incident.

The incident, which occurred Jan. 14 at the Ahoskie Police Department, involved Mobley, Hertford County Senior Magistrate. It is alleged that while processing Jerome Cross, an Ahoskie man arrested for trespassing on Jan. 14, Mobley struck Cross twice in the face.

White was concerned over the length of time it took for formal charges to be brought against Mobley – a criminal summons for simple assault was filed on Friday of last week.

He was also concerned over why, with two Ahoskie Police officers allegedly in the room at the time of the incident, wasn’t Mobley immediately arrested for assault.

Additionally, White said he was upset over Cross’ claim that he was refused medical treatment following the incident.

“This has the appearance of a cover-up,” White said.

Following Wednesday’s press conference, White told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that he feared an internal investigation would not produce a fair outcome.

“We would like to see an impartial person or persons with no ties to Ahoskie, Hertford County or even the eastern part of the state investigate this,” he stressed.

When asked if the State Bureau of Investigation would be worthy of the job, White replied, “Yes, as long as they send someone without any ties to this area.”

In another twist to the story, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald obtained a copy of the case file from the Hertford County Clerk of Court. In that file was a copy of an April 22 letter sent by Cross to District 6B Chief District Court Judge Alfred Kwasikpui, who oversees all Magistrates within the local three-county district.

The letter was a formal complaint against Mobley. It also shed new details not reported in Saturday’s edition (“Magistrate charged”) of the News-Herald.

In the letter, Cross claimed he went to the Ahoskie Police Department earlier on Jan. 14 to file a complaint against his landlord.

“Instead of taking my complaint, Mr. Mobley threatened to have me arrested if I went back home even though I had receipts showing that I was paying rent to Ms. Pressley to live there, and he also refused to allow me to return home to pick-up my son,” Cross wrote.

The letter continued, “Since I had no where else to go and I didn’t want to leave my son there, I returned home. (APD) Officer Wheeler was order (sic) by Mr. Mobley to pick me up and bring me back to the police station. A warrant for trespassing was issued for my arrest.”

Cross went on to claim that based on Mobley’s previous actions and telephone conversations he had overheard Pressley having with the Magistrate, he accused Mobley of having a relationship with Pressley…“at which point Magistrate Mobley punched me in the face two times.”

Cross was also charged last Friday in the Jan. 14 incident. He was issued a criminal summons for disorderly conduct by using abusive language.

The chain of events leading up to as well as the alleged assault by Mobley on Cross were videotaped, part of standard operating procedure within the Magistrate’s office located at the Ahoskie Police Department.

That tape may be entered into evidence today (Thursday) during a scheduled Administrative Hearing within Hertford County Superior Court. That hearing was ordered by Judge Kwasikpui, who suspended Mobley, with pay, until a determination is made on Mobley’s future as a Magistrate.

Today’s hearing was scheduled before District 6B Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant. However, according to the case file, Judge Grant entered an order of recusal on May 9 based on facts that his “impartiality and objectivity could reasonably be questioned if he presided at the hearing in this matter.” Judge Grant said he and his wife, local attorney Rosiland Grant, have been friends with the wife of Magistrate Mobley for 25 years. Mr. Mobley’s wife is Annie Mobley, who represents the 5th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

According to the Clerk of Court’s file, Robert H. Hobgood of Louisburg, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, will preside over today’s hearing.