The UNC System won’t be getting fully repaid on a $2.5 million trust it provided a controversial Confederate group last year in a backdoor deal that has since crumbled under public scrutiny and a judge’s re-examination.
Instead, over $80,000 of the short-lived “Monument Trust” will end up being paid to non-UNC attorneys who played a role in the creation of the lawsuit settlement that temporarily gave Silent Sam to the North Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc. on Nov. 27.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour approved those final payments in a new court order on Wednesday, which states that the Monument Trust must be dissolved within 10 days once all of its obligations have been fulfilled and any remaining funds are returned to the UNC System.
The Daily Tar Heel reported last month that students, faculty and alumni had launched a last-ditch legal effort last month to invalidate the requested outside payments, urging Judge Baddour in an amicus brief on March 16 to instead order that the trust be repaid in full to UNC. They argued the trust must be treated as if it never existed in order to truly meet Judge Baddour’s order, thus invalidating any of its past or current activity.
The UNC System and its Board of Governors countered those briefs with their own motion to strike the next day. They pointed to a previous ruling by Judge Baddour on Jan. 10 that the students and faculty don't have standing to participate in the action.
Judge Baddour’s ruling on Wednesday shows that the state’s higher-education authority succeeded in its argument.
As a result, $52,500 of the UNC-funded trust will pay Boyd Sturges, who represented the Confederate group while it sued the UNC System over illegitimate claims to Silent Sam. Another $29,860.50 will pay outside attorneys who provided services for the trust after its creation, which includes a payment of over $17,000 to Matthew McGonagle, the trustee of the Monument Trust, and two smaller payments to outside legal firms whose services McGonagle enlisted for the trust.