The National Rifles Association will not have to pay former NRA President Oliver North’s legal bills. That was the ruling today by Justice Joel Cohen in the lawsuit brought by the NRA seeking a declaratory judgement. Col. North had sought indemnification for legal expenses incurred as a result subpoenas in the second Ack-Mac case and the Senate Finance Committee’s request for documents.
Justice Joel Cohen said Thursday that the gun rights group isn’t required under its internal rules or state bylaws to indemnify North for expenses he’s incurring as a witness in legal matters triggered by the infighting, including a probe of the NRA’s nonprofit status by New York’s attorney general.
The turmoil began when North alleged that Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s longtime leader and public face, used the NRA to enrich himself, an accusation LaPierre denied. North was accused of trying to overthrow him.
Ruling from the bench, Cohen said the case boiled down to the meaning of a 93-word sentence in the NRA’s bylaws and didn’t hinge on allegations between the parties, including the group’s claim that North acted in bad faith when he began looking into alleged wrongdoing at the organization.
“No sentence should be 93 words long, but once you wade through it, the meaning is clear,” Cohen said. “Colonel North’s reading would require something close to a blank check, and that’s just not what the bylaw says.”
As of this writing, the NY State Courts Electronic Filing system does not have the actual ruling posted.
As might be expected, NRA outside counsel William Brewer III called this a “resounding win” for the NRA. What would be interesting to know is how much Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors billed to handle this case. It would also be interesting to know what the legal bills submitted by Col. North amounted to by comparison.
This case was on the surface about whether Col. North was entitled to indemnification or reimbursements of his legal bills incurred. Below the surface you have a very successful effort to get rid of Chris Cox who was a potential successor to Wayne LaPierre. It also consolidated the hold that Brewer has over LaPierre by damaging those who were independent of Brewer or who opposed him. You see more and more of that coming out as time has passed.