#NCSEN: So, Greg. How was YOUR Day?

download (29)Republican US Senate candidate Greg Brannon had quite a Tuesday.  He was a guest on Glenn Beck’s national radio program, and received quite a bit of flattering praise from the host himself.    What started off as a great day ended with a jury verdict in a civil case that shocked and surprised Brannon and just about everyone else who closely watched the courtroom proceedings.

The media: If you knew nothing about Brannon’s court case but what you read in The N&O and watched on WRAL, you probably came away with the impression that Brannon robbed these people at gunpoint, got arrested by the police, and was facing jail time. It’s tough to cover court cases in short newspaper stories or 30 second videos.  The media regularly reports things that are not heard by the jury.  They also regularly omit important facts the jury heard.

 

Jurors also get specific instructions from the judge about how to evaluate the case.  The question is not always as clean as “Did Mr.X shoot Mr. Y?”  Jurors have to determine whether a number of specific conditions were met in courtroom testimony.  

I am a former journalist who has covered more than his fair share of court cases.  I’ve seen a lot of criminal AND civil proceedings.  Criminal cases involve specific charges leveled by law enforcement and state prosecutors against an individual.  Civil proceedings are attempts to settle disagreements between parties to contractual agreements.  Divorces, slip-and-fall, liability and malpractice are examples of things you see in the civil arena.   One side is trying to get the other side to take responsibility for something.

The media has tried to cover this the same way it does a criminal case. In civil cases, it is not a matter of guilt or innocence.  The court and the jury are merely acting as a referee in a dispute.

Mistakes:  I see two key errors Brannon made in this whole affair. One was passing along second and third-hand information involving other people’s money. The other was not testifying in his own defense.  Personal testimony is more important in civil cases than it is in criminal cases.  In criminal cases, the burden is on the state to prove you are guilty.  You also have fifth amendment protections.  In civil cases, the court is refereeing an argument.  The other side is attempting to make you look really bad.  If you don’t speak up and rebut the other side, you don’t give the court much to chew on.

The main — and pretty much, only – piece of evidence was an email Brannon sent passing along information someone else told him.

I checked in to why Brannon did not testify.  A pro-Brannon source in the courtroom told me there were two reasons: (1) they seriously thought the case had no merit and was going to be tossed, and (2) they worried about the plaintiff’s attorney trying to embarrass Brannon in front of the media in the courtroom.

Brannon is a skilled orator.  I think he could have handled himself well on the stand. He could have told the jury about how he lost money like everyone else in the deal did.  Brannon could have also testified about how he felt so bad his friends lost money in the deal that he offered to cash in his 401K to cover their losses.  (The former friends — now plaintiffs — reportedly refused the offer, according to court documents.)

If you think getting on the stand is fraught with risk, wait until things come down to the wire in this campaign. 

The other co-defendant got off the hook because he plausibly testified that the complaint had no merit.  Brannon could have done the same if he had stepped forward.

Brannon did not get popped for fraud, like so many trolls out there are trying to suggest.  The plaintiffs wanted someone to reimburse them for their investment, and the court determined — rightly or wrongly — that it is up to Brannon to do so.

The Fallout:  Lawsuits, arbitration and mediations are a staple of doing business.  There are a lot of lawyers out there looking to get paid.  (All of those commercials during the morning news shows are testimony to that.) The deeper your pockets are — and the more prominent you are — the more likely you are to get sued.

This case was basically a spat between old friends that spiraled out of control and went public.   Most suits don’t get this kind of publicity. They tend to get quietly settled before they hit the courtroom and the media. Wal-Mart has been sued A LOT.  Your family doctor has likely been sued.  Your insurance company has likely been sued.  Have those facts stopped you from doing business with any of them? 

Brannon has described himself as ‘shocked’ by the verdict — promising to fight it on appeal and clear his name.  That will likely take a year or so.  In the meantime, no money will change hands.  No one will be publicly hanged or tarred-and-feathered. Life, and the Senate campaign, will go on.  

22 comments for “#NCSEN: So, Greg. How was YOUR Day?

  1. Chris Weaver
    February 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I have to wonder, where these investors…are are they democrats?
    Are they expecting “equal outcomes”? “Income Equality”?
    Since when does “investing’ come with out risk?
    Are they following the progressive idea of “Trivial Pursuit of Happiness”?
    Two weeks ago the democrats were preaching income inequality…now it’s slothfulness and “liberty at being out of work”…
    These “investors” need to get on the program and keep up with the message…

  2. jweaks
    February 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Sounds like an accurate synopsis of the situation, but the damage is done. This will not and cannot be sloughed off so easily as “the cost of business” or “nothing to see here.” This will not be settled in time to restore his name and it will be used against him. If this isn’t deadly to his campaign, it’s close.

  3. Mark
    February 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Honestly, Dr. Brannon expects me to trust him? How can i trust him if someone with money learned the hard way? I hope Dr. Brannon wins the primary………..It will be an easy rollover for Senator Kay Hagan.

    • Keith
      February 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      I have already trusted my tax money to Kay Hagan. I would prefer not to see her insanity continue to abuse the fidelity of duty for a North Carolina Senator. The Constitution is the Law of the Land and I seriously doubt our Senator has any desire to limit the Power of the Judicial and Executive Branches of government. I pray for each of the parties in this lawsuit as I do not know all of the facts. I support Dr. Brannon based on his stated commitment to the Constitution. As a Christian I pray Dr. Brannon will study Matthew 5:25 and if the two other gentlemen are Christians I encourage each of the parties to study 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. I also pray for each of the respondents regarding this story. Please do not go beyond what you actually know.

    • boyer68
      February 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Investors lose money, that’s the way it goes. Sometimes they MAKE money, that’s the way it goes. Too bad you missed the part where Brannon offered to reimburse these two guys. Why NOT take the reimbursement? (Makes a thinking person wonder about these guy’s motives.) You have no problem with Hagan’s record? Not surprising. The only sin a liberal can commit, according to other liberals, is not being liberal enough. If Brannon wins the primary, Hagan is gone, as she deserves to be.

  4. Kathy
    February 20, 2014 at 1:28 am

    You raise the issue of trust when Kay Hagan has repeatedly lied to Americans over and over and over and over on critical elements of ObamaCare, and then voted for it without reading it and knowing what was in it? Really?

    Kay Hagan has a proven track record of constitutional destruction, pursuing Obama’s agenda, and ignoring her NC constituents. And when the tide is turning against her, it’s the Koch brothers’ fault, not HER voting record.

    I would take a chance on Brannon any day. I guess you missed the part about Brannon offering to cash out his 401K to reimburse the investors for their loss, but they declined. I suspect this guy has more class than anyone in the Dem or Repub field, and most especially Hagan.

    • Tommy
      February 20, 2014 at 1:34 am

      Kathy,
      I am with you. As a matter of fact, my mind is already made up. I will be voting for Dr. Brannon in the primary and hopefully again in the general election!

      • Toxhandler
        February 20, 2014 at 1:40 am

        My guess is that if this is the end for his campaign as some would suggest, that will only be the case if it causes him to lose his own supporters. The only thing that matters right now is the May Primary. Focus on that and forget about November.

        Having said that, it sounds to me like Brannon and his legal advisors took stock of the situation, determined the best course of action with respect to the suit, and just plain got unlucky. The best laid battle plans have been undone that way. It happens.

    • Raphael
      February 20, 2014 at 2:00 am

      What really sticks out like a sore thumb in this matter is that Brannon offered to cash in his 401K and reimburse them, but they insisted on going to trial. Who turns down a settlement for the full claim in order to take a chance with a jury? That is bizarre from a financial standpoint. Of course in such settlements, there is almost invariably a non-disclosure provision which voids the payment if the terms are disclosed. Turning this down was not rational financial behavior by plaintiffs, so there is something more involved here.

      I guess these plaintiffs may have developed a personal animosity toward Brannon that made them take that risk just to cause him maximum embarasment, but such behavior rarely happens in the real world.

      The other possibility that comes to mind is Brannon’s political enemies, Democrat or Republican, getting to these people and making it worth their while financially to soldier on with the case. That would at least represent more rational behavior, as each would have a gain involved.

      Will we ever know what really transpired? I doubt it. But it is likely that there is a lot more to why these plaintiffs went to trial than is obvious on the surface.

  5. Atnor
    February 20, 2014 at 1:43 am

    I’ve no idea about the actual merits of the case. From these media reports, I dont see how I could at all have enough info to really form a reasonable opinion about the relevance or validity, or how (or if) it reflects on Mr. Brannon’s character.

    Honestly, after reading a few of these stories… it really sounds like he was in a cheerleader-type role, and he forwarded second-hand information to some fellow investor buddies that turned out to be at least somewhat untrue.

    What the heck does that mean? Is that “actually” what happened? Is that horrible? Careless? Or no big deal? *shrug* Umm, I dont know. How would I?

    I have read enough slanted news from both the N&O and wral that I know you can’t trust them to offer up an honest accounting when it comes to people they dont align with politically – so, I’m already suspect that their presentations are simply tainted by default. And even then, I’m not seeing a lot of fire.

    I do keep wondering about these suing investors… and the smarts of any person investing $100k+ in a high-risk tech start-up, in any way based on a single email from a single guy, regardless of how long you’ve known him. Sorry… do you not have a phone or email or the Internet, or any ability or wherewithal to bother contacting and asking any other people that are actually involved?? Who does that??

    That sounds like people who didnt do their own homework – and quite often that leads to the exact outcome seen here, losing your money. And if that’s at all the situation… well, I also know I’m a person who’s easily irked when I see people not only just fail to do their own due diligence, but who go the extra mile of failing to “own” their missteps and avoid basic levels of personal responsibility.

    Hey… if you’ve got a legit beef, I’ve no problem with people availing themselves to the court system and seeking redress when they’ve been done wrong… but I also am quite aware of a rising tendency to run to the courts and blame others for our own poor judgment. Which applies here? Again, no idea at this point.

    I am curious if anyone could point me in the direction of where I could get some actual details? I’d really dig being able to look it over and decide my own opinion about what actually did or did not transpire. I know different types of cases and bigger profile ones often end up with a lot of their proceedings and paperwork available online… but for something like this I’m guessing there probably isnt much online, and I didnt turn up anything in the little searching I did…would be cool though :)

    • Kathy
      February 20, 2014 at 2:08 am

      I agree with you, and would love to see a full analysis based on more information.

  6. Barbara B.
    February 20, 2014 at 4:56 am

    We all make bad decisions in our lives and suffer the consequences. The right response is to admit our mistakes and take responsibility for them.

    It seems Dr. Brannon has made a series of really bad decisions that bring his character into question, yet he is defiant rather than humbled by them. He “mislead” two friends out of a quarter of a million dollars and wouldn’t pay it back until forced to by the court after a jury found him guilty.

    Dr. Brannon also blatantly plagiarized from a sitting U.S. Senator’s campaign website last November, but acted like it was no big deal when the New York Times broke the story.

    Now he seeks the Republican nomination for the United States Senate even though he admits he did not vote for the Republican nominee for President in 2012. Dr. Brannon by default helped to re-elect Obama instead of Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican leader who would have represented conservative values instead of socialist ones.

    I’ve never heard Brannon once admit error or express remorse for his actions. Only arrogance. That is why I won’t be voting for him. We have too many Senators already who lie and cheat and think that they don’t have to suffer consequences.

    • 357 Magnum
      February 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Paul Shumaker Alert. Alerting the public to Paul Shumaker material above. Paul are you cross dressing as a Barbara now?

    • John
      February 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Last time I checked, Mitt Romney won all the electoral votes in NC. But that’s beside the point: this lifelong Republican didn’t vote for Romney, either. There comes a point in one’s life where one realizes that there are progressives in both parties bent on nothing but preserving power for the political class and stripping the rest of us of our liberties.

      I have not once regretted not voting for Mitt Romney. And if, God help us, Tillis is on the ballot in November, I will not for a moment regret writing in another candidate. That is substantially different as voting for Kay Hagan. If you think otherwise, then you are presuming unwisely upon my vote.

    • Larry Jones
      February 20, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Barbara B. – Dr. Brannon is not my top choice among the candidates. My biggest concern is his electability in the general election and this jury finding just makes it that much easier for Sen. Hagan to target him. Also, I’ve been annoyed by the tactics of his supporters. Although he can’t control everything they say, when they mischaracterize the motives and positions of others, it reflects poorly on him. In the same way, when we point out Dr. Brannon’s liabilities I think we need to be sure that our critiques are accurate. If not, it can reflect poorly on the candidate(s) we support. I don’t know which candidate you support and you may plan to keep it a secret. If that’s the case, my comments may be irrelevant to you but here are two issues I’d like for you to clarify:

      You said “He ‘mislead’ two friends out of a quarter of a million dollars and wouldn’t pay it back until forced to by the court after a jury found him guilty.” My understanding is that he offered to pay the plaintiffs back but they refused the offer. Is my understanding correct?

      Exactly how did Dr. Brannon’s failure to vote for Mitt Romney help get Pres. Obama re-elected? Romney won NC.

      • Raphael
        February 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm

        What is really bizarre in this case is that the two ”friends” did not accept the settlement offer of paying them back in full which Brannon offered, but instead took the risk of taking a weak case to trial. They took a big risk with their own finances in order to hurt Brannon politically. Why? Did they suddenly hate Brannon that intensely? Or was one or another of Brannon’s political enemies manipulating them?

        Also, their legal fees would be higher taking a case to trial rather than settling it. If paying their lawyers hourly, there are a lot more hours involved. If paying a percentage of the judgment, those contracts take a bigger percentage when a case has to go to trail than if it is settled. So, in addition to taking a risk of any judgment at all, they paid higher legal fees.

        The plaintiffs did not act rationally in refusing the settlement offer. What were their real motives in going forward to trial and who is really behind them in doing that?

    • Raphael
      February 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Staff prepares websites, not the candidate. That charge is utter rubbish.

      As to bad choices, yes Brannon may have been negligent in passing on information that he believed to be true to some friends, but that does not impact the broad mass of voters.

      The bad choices of Tilli$, some of which are totally corrupt, DO impact the mass of voters. Tilli$ support of amnesty for illegal aliens, gutting e-Verify, and drivers licenses for illegals rewards those who thumb their noses at our immigration laws, takes jobs from citizens, and explodes our public service costs. Tilli$ corruptly takes those positions to try to get campaign contributions from Big Ag. Tilli$ support of the ”renewable energy mandate” which he did to corruptly help a small bank that he is an owner of and which invests heavily in those consumer ripoffs, will substantially jack up the electric bills of ordinary North Carolinians. Tilli$ support of Obamacare exchanges in North Carolina was support for a system that is jacking up the health care costs of many North Carolinians. The list could go on.

      In short, Tilli$’ bad choices directly and negatively impact me and other North Carolinians. Tilli$ bad choices are often based on corruption. Brannon’s bad choice does not impact me or most North Carolinians directly and it is not corrupt. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

  7. February 20, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Seems like once again the GOOD GUY, aka Dr. Greg Brannon, is a Victim of Journalistic Malpractice via the MSM.

    Good Post here Haymaker. Here’s some MORE fuel for the fire.

    http://silencedogood2010.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/liberal-media-the-greg-brannon-files/

    • Atnor
      February 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks for the links to the complaint documentation… that’s the kind of info I was hoping to see :)

      From the excerpted email Brannon sent, and the subsequent follow-up more detailed email about the Verizon meeting…. I honestly dont see a problem up front. It’s not like they said they had anything in the bag and were promising the moon – it’s actually pretty restrained.

      Brannon’s presence at most of those communications listed in the complaint also is either minor or non-existent too.

      I suppose the real crux of the matter is of course on what their actual communications were with Verizon, which is not something we see in just that complaint filing – we just have the plaintiffs saying it was different. But since these documents dont actually indicate them saying Verizon promised them anything…. I’m not sure what the investors were thinking.

      And how did he bear “sole” responsibility, like the N&O reported, based on that complaint?

      I’m kinda curious about what the evidence was…

  8. RJ Matthews
    February 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

    If Greg Brannon refuses to take the stand and defend himself, will he defend the Constitution? I still won’t support Tillis and will leave my Brannon bumper stickers on for now. Haven’t seen many.

  9. kimosaabe
    February 20, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    So some investors get reimbursed for their own shortcomings (aka stupidity) for not doing their own due diligence on an investment. It’s good to know you can go through life stupid and irresponsible, then when something goes wrong blame another.

  10. jweaks
    February 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    After studying this a little more, it MIGHT not be as big a deal as I think it is. The problem is that perception is reality and now there is a firmly established perception that something’s wonky. Too bad. If Brannon can’t overcome it, I hope someone can. Harris appears to be gaining a little traction.

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