It's called "immunity." Did you hear Kenerly refer to NCGS 163-278.29 when addressing the judge? It reads:
§ 163‑278.29. Compelling self‑incriminating testimony; individual so testifying excused from prosecution.
No individual shall be excused from attending or testifying or producing any books, papers, or other documents before any court upon any proceeding or trial of another for the violation of any of the provisions of this Article, upon the ground or for the reason that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him may tend to incriminate him, but such individual may be subpoenaed and required to testify by and for the State relative to any offense arising under the provisions of this Article; but such individual shall not be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter or thing concerning which he may be compelled to testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, and no compelled testimony so given or produced shall be used against him upon any criminal proceeding, but such individual so compelled to testify with respect to any acts of his own shall be immune from prosecution on account thereof. (1973, c. 1272, s. 1.)
No one thought Easley was innocent. Either Easley was claiming immunity or his buddies who testified at the BOE hearing were. Joe Cheshire used that statute to make Kenerly believe that he shouldn't waste millions of taxpayers' dollars in a down economy taking a case to trial when it was doubtful the jury would convict. That's why Joe Cheshire gets paid the big bucks. That's how Easley got off so lightly.