Lawyers for a company that provides software for sweepstakes machines admitted Friday that a letter they sent to several district attorneys in North Carolina earlier this week was a mistake.
Christopher Clifton is an attorney with Grace, Tisdale and Clifton, P.A., a firm that has been representing International Internet Technologies (IIT), LLC in a recent sweepstakes court case.
IIT has been in the spotlight recently due to a temporary restraining order granted by Superior Court Judge Robert Johnson in Davidson County.
The temporary restraining order, which was requested by IIT and a sweepstakes business, enjoined law enforcement from closing down sweepstakes businesses who have sweepstakes software made by IIT.
The state Attorney General’s office answered the restraining order by filing a motion to dismiss the entire case based on a “lack of subject matter jurisdiction because all issues in this case have been decided … ,” the motion said in part.
This week the same judge agreed with the Attorney General’s office and dismissed the entire case.
On Tuesday, the IIT attorneys sent a letter to Richmond County District Attorney Reece Saunders that explained their intention to appeal the dismissal.
This letter came after Johnson dismissed the case completely and, according to Clifton, was sent to approximately four different D.A’s, including Saunders.
“It was a critical error on our part,” said Clifton.
Clifton said that the previous letter was just a draft and they felt it was too strongly worded. He said they decided to scrap that letter and write a new, “watered down version” of the previous letter to send to the D.A’s.
The new letter said:
RE: IIT, et al v. State of NC, et al
As is our custom, we want to take this opportunity to update you on the latest court proceedings in the above-referenced matter.
We appeared Monday before the Honorable Robert Johnson of Alamance County, sitting in Davidson County. The purpose of the hearing was to determine whether the Temporary Restraining Order previously entered would become a Permanent Injunction. The ultimate purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Complaint was to have the Court determine whether or not IIT’s then current system violated G.S. 14-306.4. The request for an injunction was an ancillary issue to protect operators from enforcement until that question was decided.
Instead of allowing the Court to make that determination, the Attorney General made a Motion to Dismiss on a procedural point. The Court granted the Motion and dismissed our action. The Court’s reasoning was that the Plaintiffs were seeking an advisory opinion and that this matter was not proper for action under the Declaratory Judgment Act. As a result of the Court’s ruling, our client, other software providers, and law enforcement are still left without a clear interpretation of G.S. 14-306.4.
In the meantime, our client assures us that its systems do no employ entertaining displays in the entry or reveal process. Our client continues to modify its software in an effort to operate within the confines of North Carolina State law. While the Attorney General’s office and some law enforcement have been unwilling to look at IIT’s software, many other members of law enforcement and some prosecutors have taken that opportunity. IIT’s systems, along with several of its competitors’ similar programs, have been viewed and met with approval in many jurisdictions. As a result of several of those meetings, our client has continued to operate its system in many jurisdictions.
We remain available and willing to meet with you to demonstrate IIT’s software. If you have any questions or would like for us to demonstrate the system, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Until then, we are
Christopher Clifton,” the new letter concluded.
Although the new letter does not mention appealing the dismissal, Clifton said they plan to appeal the ruling once Johnson signs the order.
Clifton said that the dismissal does not become final until the State makes an order and Johnson signs that order.
Clifton also said that they are planning to file a Petition for Cert., also called a Petition for Certiorari, which will appeal the original 2012 ruling in the case of Hest, International Internet Technologies v. State ex rel. Perdue.
According to the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School, a Petition for Cert. is, “A petition that asks an appellate court to grant a writ of certiorari. This type of petition usually argues that a lower court has incorrectly decided an important question of law, and that the mistake should be fixed to prevent confusion in similar cases.”
According to Clifton, the Petition for Cert. will ask the United States Supreme Court to review the case because it involves a constitutional issue.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.