The state's secretary for Crime Control and Public Safety might want to stock up on some gingko.
Reuben Young appeared to be struggling with memory loss last month as he was questioned as part of a lawsuit filed by numerous media organizations, including The N&O and The Charlotte Observer, against former governor Mike Easley over his administration's systematic deletion of e-mails.
During his sworn deposition, Young, who served as Easley's chief legal counsel, answered with a variation of "I do not recall" more than 30 times, according to a transcript.
Under state law, the e-mails of government employees are public records. However, in 2004 Young and Ruffin Poole drafted a policy for the governor's office that allowed staff members to erase any e-mail messages they deemed to "no longer have administrative or reference value."
Asked if he could remember what statute or case law he consulted to come to the interpretation that e-mails could be erased, Young answered: "I don't specifically recall."
Asked if he ever sent or received messages from a secret e-mail account used by Easley, the address for which was "Nick Danger" spelled backwards, Young said: "Certainly not that I can recall."
Asked if Easley ever gave copies of e-mails from his secret e-mail account to review for potential release under public records requests, Young answered: "I don't specifically recall that, but he may have."
Did Young remember reviewing requests from the media regarding documents related to Easley's undisclosed flights on private aircraft? "I can't recall if I saw that request or not," Young replied.
Did he ever communicate with First Lady Mary Easley through her secret e-mail account? "I don't know if I did or not. I could have," Young replied.
It is little wonder that in 2008, after a fired public affairs officer said she had been ordered to delete all e-mail to or from the governor's staff every day, Easley tapped Young to lead his internal investigation into whether the state's public records law had been violated.
The very next day, Young issued a letter stating there was absolutely no evidence of an effort to delete e-mail messages.
Earlier this year, former press secretary Renee Hoffman testified under oath that Easley ordered his staff to delete e-mail messages so they would not become public.
Dome hopes Young, who now supervises the troubled Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies, has better luck remembering where he left his car keys.