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Jury Will Decide Sunshine Case

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Knoxville (WVLT) -- The Knoxville News Sentinel sunshine lawsuit nearly came to an end on Friday.

While the jury got the day off, its been a longer than usual one for attorneys and Chancellor Daryl Fansler.

They spent much of the day preparing instructions for the jury and will have to meet extra early on Monday morning to revise the questions the jury will have to answer.

But at one point the jury was almost thrown out of the picture altogether.

"There is no objection to number 14, is there Mr. Hollow, Mister Moncier?" asked Chancellor Fansler.

Attorneys spent hours this afternoon discussing instructions and questions for the jury.

They hoped Chancellor Fansler wouldn't have to hear.

"This is an attempt on the defense to save the county wide offices and I understand that, but it's wrong," said News Sentinel attorney Richard Hollow.

Hollow along with Herb Moncier and Maryann Stackhouse all argued for a directed verdict, meaning Chancellor Fansler would determine the commission fate and the jury would be left out of it.

"Every time they came out of the district with a consensus it passed on the first ballot," Hollow said. "What better proof do you need?

Plaintiffs argued the defense never proved its case.

"They elected not to call Sheriff Jones, they elected not to call the 3 appointees that went into the seats in 2 and 4," Moncier said. They elected not to contest the circumstances that we put forth for the jury."

But Stackhouse says one error doesn't void all commission appointments.

"You don't just void the day, you look at each action, not every action," she argued.

"The court doesn't have the latitude under the open meetings act to cherry pick," Hollow said. "It's not a cafeteria."

But despite each attorneys attempt, Fansler denied the motion and turned everything over to the jury.

"They'll simply answer back yes or no, and from that, the court will have to apply the law," Fansler said.

The jury will hear closing arguments Monday and then be given the case to deliberate.

Fansler still has yet to determine if the entire commission will be charged or if it will be on an individual basis.

Keep it with Volunteer TV News for the latest on Monday's verdict.


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