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Restraining order may keep Jackson from attending meetings

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Quentin Jackson

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By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

HERTFORD — A re­strain­ing or­der is ef­fec­tively pre­vent­ing a Hert­ford town coun­cilor from at­tend­ing any town meet­ings at­tended by the fel­low coun­cilor he’s accused of as­sault­ing.

Quentin Jackson said he found out Monday, Oct. 8, he runs the risk of being arrested if he attends any Hertford meetings also attended by Sid Eley.

Jackson, a first-term councilor, is charged with assault on a government official for allegedly punching Eley, also a member of Hertford Town Council, following a council work session on Oct. 1. Jackson admits punching Eley but claims he did so in self-defense.

Jackson is due in District Court on Oct. 24 for the charge. In the meantime, he’s been informed by a magistrate that one of the conditions of his pretrial release is to stay away from Eley — including from town council meetings. 

“I got a call that Monday at 4:50 p.m. and they said we need to see you before the council meeting, and I couldn’t imagine why,” Jackson said this week.

District Attorney Andrew Womble explained in an email why Jackson potentially faces arrest if he attends any meeting also attended by Eley.

“One of the conditions of his pretrial release is that he not be in the presence of Mr. Eley,” Womble said. “That is a standard condition applicable to every defendant charged with an assault-type crime. His attendance at town board meetings is immaterial.”

Jackson is set to appear before a civil district court judge on Friday to request he be allowed to take out a counter-restraining order against Eley. Jackson claims he struck Eley out of fear, saying his fellow councilor “got in my face” and refused to back away. He said the fact he is 35 and Eley is 72 is immaterial to the circumstances of what happened.

“I don’t see him as an old guy,” Jackson said of Eley. “He’s a firefighter and he’s answered 40 percent of our fire calls. I don’t see him as an elderly old man. I saw him as a threat. ... I want a restraining order keeping him away from me. The man is dangerous.”

Eley, a long-time Hertford volunteer fireman and former mayor, has declined to comment on the punching incident, noting only that it’s being investigated.

So far, Jackson claims getting a counter-restraining order against Eley has been difficult. He said he’s been trying to get a magistrate to hear his side of what happened, but none of Perquimans’ magistrates will hear his complaint.

“The DA claims to be impartial but he’s not talked to me and every magistrate has recused themselves on this case,” Jackson said. “I’ve tried to get clarity, but no one has talked to me. ... This is all just political. This is just nastiness and politics.”

Jackson was originally charged with simple assault, but Womble’s office dropped that charge and charged him instead with assault on a government official.

The penalty for a conviction on that charge varies according to a defendant’s previous criminal convictions. According to state statutes, assault on a government official is considered a Class A1 misdemeanor. Defendants with no prior offenses face up to 60 days in jail if convicted. For defendants with between one and four prior convictions, the punishment if convicted is up to 75 days in jail. A defendant with five or more prior convictions can face up to 150 days in jail if convicted. For the purpose of determining sentencing, traffic violations don’t count as convictions.

While Jackson was charged with communicating threats and simple assault in the past, he claims they were consolidated into a single charge in 2006.

Jackson was also charged with accessing a computer without authorization, but he notes he took an Alford plea in the case. By doing so, Jackson did not admit guilt to the charge. He instead acknowledged the evidence presented by the prosecution in the case likely would persuade a judge or jury to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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