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BOLIVIA—Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis said media strategist Edward Lee Rapp’s untrue blog postings about her nearly three years ago affected her personally.
“I was embarrassed by them,” Lewis said, testifying Wednesday in her juried libel trial against Rapp. “I could not sleep.”
She asked her administrative office for time off because “I had difficulty concentrating,” she said. “I was humiliated by it.”
In response to questions from her attorney, Lonnie Williams, Lewis said she took time off for two weeks after the April 2010 blog postings by Rapp, who claimed Lewis had violated the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct when she wore a campaign button supporting Bill Rabon for state senator in the Republican primary.
During the first day of the trial Wednesday, Williams and Lewis cited Canon 7B of the code, which outlines permissible political conduct for judges in North Carolina. Lewis referred in particular to the paragraph of Canon 7B(2) stating if a judge is a candidate, he/she may “endorse any individual seeking election to any office.”
At the time of Rapp’s postings, Lewis testified she was an unopposed candidate for her current position as District 13 senior resident superior court judge.
“I wanted Mr. Rapp to take down that erroneous post,” Lewis said, adding he did not after he was notified by email to do so.
She said he posted another blog on his Facebook page on April 12, 2010, as well as on the Carolina Talk Network website.
“Yes sir, they were [posted] and spreading,” Lewis testified.
Lewis also stated Rapp “specifically left out” Canon 7B(2) in his postings.
She said Rapp’s blogs were picked up by other online websites, including the Wilmington Rants blog spot.
Williams provided the 12-member jury with additional copies of postings on the Star News Online and Cape Fear Watchdogs blog spots. The postings referred to “Edward Lee Rapp, the media strategist, had claimed that Lewis was openly supporting Bettie Fennell’s challenger for the GOP nomination in May’s  primary. Rapp said that’s a violation of judicial ethics rules.”
Williams and Lewis cited a comment on one of the postings stating “Lewis is going to have a hard time explaining this.”
Lewis testified that was from Rapp’s page that cited her for wearing a Rabon button.
Following her discovery of Rapp’s blog postings, Lewis said she called Williams. She said she also went to see a doctor, who prescribed Ambien so she could sleep.
Williams asked what other effects Rapp’s postings had on her.
“I would be in Walmart or the bank or post office, and people that I did not even know would ask me was I supposed to be supporting Bill Rabon, could I support Bill Rabon if I were in violation of any judicial code?” Lewis said, adding such occurrences happened often during the time of the postings.
The trial continues Thursday at the Brunswick County Courthouse.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email email@example.com.