A former political candidate who has filed more than 160 lawsuits across North Carolina has been blocked in the Mecklenburg courts from entering new complaints without prior approval.
Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell says she orally issued what is known as a "gatekeeper" order against Tigress McDaniel last week and plans to sign a written order in the coming days.
It bans McDaniel from making any new legal filings unless they have been approved ahead of time by either the county's chief magistrate judge, the chief district court judge or one of the county's resident superior court judges, Bell said.
McDaniel can also proceed if an attorney in good standing before the Mecklenburg and North Carolina bars assures the courts that her filing is not frivolous and has legal merit.
The order does not apply to federal courts, where McDaniel has filed lawsuits in the past. Nor does it affect complaints McDaniel filed before Bell's order.
McDaniel was not on hand May 18 to hear Bell's order. She did not reply to Observer emails Thursday seeking comment.
Earlier this month, McDaniel was an unsuccessful candidate in the Democratic primary for an at-large seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
Gatekeeper orders in North Carolina are rare. Bell told the Observer she handed down the restrictions against McDaniel "to protect the integrity" of the Mecklenburg judicial process.
A 2017 gatekeeper order against McDaniel in Rowan County found that she had filed 162 lawsuits in 72 N.C. counties. Her complaints have targeted public bodies, lawyers, landlords and others with whom she has done business.
According to Bell, McDaniel has failed to follow the rules of civil procedure in her Mecklenburg cases and had filed lawsuits "for the purpose of harassment."
McDaniel serves as her own attorney and has had the normal filing fees waived by declaring that she is indigent, Bell said. A Superior Court lawsuit costs $200 to file; district court, $150. The Mecklenburg sheriff's office also charges $30 per person to deliver the complaint to defendants.
McDaniel, then known as Tosha McDougal, served about 20 months in state prison after being convicted in 2006 in Cabarrus County on charges of obtaining property under false pretenses and identity theft. She maintains her innocence.
In March, the Observer reported on McDaniel's suit against two Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents, the district, the school board and several employees over the dietary and health needs of her son.
McDaniel dropped the complaint on April 16 during a court hearing. But Bell said McDaniel did not inform the judge that she had filed an identical complaint four days before against the same parties, including a CMS volunteer whom Bell had dropped from the case on April 10.
McDaniel's latest complaint added two new defendants: the Observer and Charlotte attorney Lane Williamson, who represented the CMS volunteer whom Bell removed.
Williamson said Thursday in an email that the restrictions on any future lawsuits by McDaniel is an appropriate step.
"Given Ms. McDaniel’s extensive history of abuse of the judicial process, the remedy of a gatekeeper order is necessary to restrain her from burdening the courts and the public with her manifestly frivolous lawsuits," he said.