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This story has been updated from a previous version to include comments from interim DA Bob Orr.

Originally published: 2014-05-28 10:59:22
Last modified: 2014-05-29 15:57:38

Banks to assume DA role June 5

by Anna Oakes

Although presumptive District Attorney-elect Seth Banks would not have taken office until after the November general election, he will assume the post June 5 as a result of interim District Attorney Bob Orr's resignation.

A statement issued by the 24th Prosecutorial District Wednesday indicated that Robert Orr -- who was appointed interim district attorney last month after the sudden retirement of DA Jerry Wilson -- has submitted his resignation to Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory in turn has issued a commission to Banks to assume the duties of district attorney for the remainder of Wilson's term, the statement said.

"Banks was elected in the May 6 Republican primary for the office of district attorney and has no general election opposition," the statement said.

Banks will be sworn in at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 5, in the courtroom of the Yancey County Courthouse in Burnsville. N.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin will administer the oath, followed by a public reception at the Nu-Wray Inn.

However, Banks will need to secure at least one vote in the November general election to be officially elected to the district attorney's office, Watauga County Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges previously told Watauga Democrat.

The 24th District includes Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties.

The race represents the first time the district attorney's seat has been contested in at least three terms. Wilson, a Republican, ran unopposed for three consecutive terms in office, retiring unexpectedly March 31 due to health reasons.

Banks faced two other Republicans in the primary -- Britt Springer and Nathan Miller, both of Boone. Banks received about 48 percent of the votes for district attorney.

Orr, a former N.C. Supreme Court justice, endorsed Banks' candidacy and contributed to his campaign. Orr said he discussed his plans to hand over the reins with all three candidates prior to the primary election.

"There was never any intent on my part to stay through the end of December," Orr said. "I said, 'If you win, give me a sense of how much time you would need to prepare to take over.'

"It would seem ... to be an inefficiency for me to hang around as an interim when we could get the presumptive elected DA in here to begin his term a little early," he added.

Orr said he would return to work with his law firm in Raleigh following the swearing in of Banks, but that he returns to the mountains as often as he can.

Banks did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment as of presstime Thursday. A staff member at Banks' law firm said he is out of town this week.