Video removed from courthouse

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Curry County officials turned off a controversial video in the courthouse lobby Wednesday afternoon and said an informational display about election issues would be dismantled.

Sharna Johnson

A controversial video related to Tuesday’s election was turned off at the county courthouse on Wednesday afternoon.

County Attorney Stephen Doerr said the county made the decision to remove the display because the issue surrounding the video had become a distraction to Tuesday’s election.

The video played on a continuous loop and was situated in the entryway of the courthouse, in the same hallway as the clerk’s office where early and absentee voting is being conducted.

Two Clovis men filed a petition in district court Monday seeking an injunction to have it removed or to allow contradictory information to be posted. They argued the video violates state law prohibiting campaigning within 100 feet of a polling location.

Tuesday night Doerr said the Clovis Municipals Schools Board of Education approved a resolution supporting two bond questions to pay for a proposed judicial complex, but a Clovis News Journal story on the video controversy received more attention.

“It was becoming a distraction to the issues in this election,” he said, so officials decided to “stop the video and let the focus be on the election and not the video.”

While the county’s opinion on the legality of the video’s placement hasn’t changed, Doerr said dragging the issue out through litigation “may not be the best way to handle all disputes in our society.”

County Clerk Connie Jo Lyman said though she didn’t challenge the placement of the video in the hallway, she is relieved to have it gone.

“I have caught criticism because it was there (but) it has been beyond my control that it was there. I didn’t put it there (and) I didn’t think that it was a violation of law so I didn’t plant my feet, but I have had some heartburn because I felt like it was an extra obstacle to overcome,” she said.

Critics of the video have said it promotes voter approval of the $33 million courthouse and jail, but county officials have described it as “informational” and have said it doesn’t recommend a vote for yes.

“I do think (the video) gives people information and I think it does kind of persuade you that we think we need it, but not vote for or against,” Lyman said.