Sunshine Trial: Guthe/Schmid Take The Stand

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- The defense called several new witness today for the Sunshine Law Trial in Downtown Knoxville. .

Seven commissioners took the stand on Wednesday bringing the total to 21 past and present commissioners who have testified so far.

Two district seat mates in particular today took the stand today to tell the jury about some back room deals they had yet to heard about.

"I guess I hold the distinction of being the last man standing," said former fourth district commissioner Phil Guthe.

Guthe said he wasn't in a good position to be in because the nomination for his seat was constantly deadlocked and finally moved to the end of the agenda on January 31st.

There were those that had orchestrated things that were able to get their way.

Guthe told the jury how state senators said they'd support a special election but they needed ten votes from the commission and only came up with four.

"Essentially what you're doing is your catering to special interest groups," Guthe said. "You're not getting public input the way it's meant to be done."

"It got pretty wild," said John Schmid, Guthe's term-limited seat mate.

Schmid called the January 31st meeting a disappointment with complete lack of respect for the law and the public.

He also said he stopped backroom deals that were about to take place during a recess.

"Commissioner Greiss came up to me and said 'they're about to swear in Richard Cate behind your back to knock you out,'" Schmid said. "This was against the agreed upon process of having everyone sworn it at 2 o'clock. I walked in and said 'Richard what are you doing?' and he turned around and looked like a deer caught in headlights."

Schmid says he told Richard Cate he'd do everything in his power to stop him from being re-elected if he was sworn in early.

That's Cate walked away from the back room deal.

Defense testimony will continue on Thursday.

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