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June 13, 2024

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Judge Rules For Footage To Be Released

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office received a judicial directive to provide dash and body camera footage to an individual who alleged a potential violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Monroe A. Miller Jr. approached the court on Nov. 22, seeking access to the footage. After a hearing and the review of the recordings on Dec. 14, visiting Superior Court Judge Steve Warren from Asheville issued an order allowing access, albeit with certain notable limitations.

On Nov. 9 around 1:25 p.m., two Haywood County Sheriff’s deputies visited Miller’s property, accompanied by Linda Overcash—his sister and a party in an ongoing civil dispute—and her attorney, Mark Melrose. This dispute concerns the division of their late father’s estate, which included substantial assets, including a Haywood County home appraised at over $1 million dollars. Miller’s father, Monroe Albert Miller, had significant achievements in the field of technology, as highlighted in his obituary.

Their purpose on Nov. 9 was to survey the property. Terry Ramey, a Haywood County commissioner and a strong supporter of Miller, and Miller’s attorney, Ed Bleynat, were also present. Miller requested the recordings from the deputies on the same day of their visit, as documented in the petition.

The initial request stated that the deputies seemed influenced by Mark Melrose regarding the court’s directives. Later on, the petition mentioned the deputies ejecting Terry Ramey from the premises despite his role as Miller’s authorized representative, as per the court order.

In response to Miller’s request, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Gina Zachary explained that without a court mandate, the footage and audio couldn’t be provided at that time. A week later, Miller presented a petition to the court.

The petition also included exchanges between Miller and Wilke (presumably an officer involved) from the evening of Nov. 9, where Miller accused the deputies of violating his rights. The Sheriff’s Office, in response, highlighted the seriousness of Miller’s allegations and stated that his further communications should be through legal representatives.

Miller’s primary grievance was the alleged deprivation of access to his own home while others had full access, and the presence of two deputies when the court order specified only one.

According to court documents, Miller also filed a complaint against Melrose with the North Carolina Bar Association, alleging inappropriate behavior. In response, Melrose mentioned Miller’s attempt to obtain a signature for a $5,000 check meant to cover administrative costs, mandated by a judge.

During the Dec. 14 court session, Judge Warren clarified the considerations for releasing law enforcement recordings, emphasizing authorization, the presence of sensitive information, and potential threats to justice administration. Warren ordered specific redactions of confidential segments, limiting Miller’s use of the recordings solely for pending or future court proceedings, warning against public disclosure under penalty of contempt.

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