McCrory's general counsel, Bob Stephens, accepted the state board's request to hire lawyer Thomas Ziko, but rejected the request to hire three attorneys with the Brooks Pierce law firm, according to WRAL. Stephens rejected the three lawyers after asking to check for any conflicts of interest, according to the News and Observer. Stephens did not say why he rejected the three lawyers from Brooks Pierce.
"The notification we received gives no legal basis for the denial of the Brooks Pierce lawyers," Joshua Malcolm, a Democratic member of the state board of elections, told WRAL.
The News and Observer noted that a lawyer at Brooks Pierce, Jim Phillips, is a co-chairman of Cooper's transition team, but Phillips was not one of the three attorneys that the state board sought to hire.
Kim Strach, the director of the state elections board, told the News and Observer that "no legal conflict exists" with the lawyers from Brooks Pierce.
"The attorneys from Brooks Pierce chosen to represent the State Board are well-versed in election laws in North Carolina. The board received assurance that appropriate firewalls would be erected to ensure Jim Phillips was screened from any matters related to this representation," she said.
Josh Lawson, the state board's staff attorney, warned that the rejection of outside attorneys could put the state board at a disadvantage in the case.
"I believe the defense of our agency will be materially prejudiced absent immediate action to secure additional representation in this case," Lawson wrote in a letter to the state elections board.
Lawson asked for a one-day extension for the board to submit its response, and U.S. District Court Judge James Dever granted the extension on Wednesday. The hearing was moved to Dec. 8.