A five-year legal battle over North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights ended yesterday when a judge ruled that the document officially belongs to the state.
Manuscript copies of the Bill of Rights were dispatched to each state during the ratification process in 1789. North Carolina's was snatched by a Union soldier during the Civil War and made its way to Ohio, then to Indiana before disappearing for years. In 2000, Connecticut antiques dealer Wayne Pratt and real estate broker Robert Matthews bought the document; they tried to sell it to the National Constitution Center in 2003; a federal judge ordered the Bill of Rights seized instead. In 2005 the document was returned to North Carolina, but legal chaos continued until it was brought to a halt yesterday by Superior Court Judge Henry Hight's ruling.
News reports from the Asheville Citizen-Times, WRAL, and the News & Observer.
For background on the case, see this article from the 8 August 2005 Christian Science Monitor, and their earlier piece on the 2003 sting operation.