Sunshine Trial Jury to Begin Deliberations Tuesday

By: Kim Bedford Email
By: Kim Bedford Email

Knox County (WVLT) - The decision on whether the Knox County commission broke the state's Open Meetings law is now in the hands of 12 men and women.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has been following the case.

Opening statements in the Sunshine lawsuit wrapped up Monday and the case was handed to the jury.

The group decided they would wait until Tuesday morning to begin answering the nearly 30 questions all three attorneys put together for them.

The 12 jurors have to come up with unanimous answers to important questions.

Such as, "Did two or more commissioners deliberate toward a decision for appointments outside the public's view?"

They'll decide appointment by appointment, and will have more than 70 exhibits to review, including meeting transcripts, roll call records, and phone records.

The closing arguments got heated at times.

"They had to occur in the back room, in the coffee lounge, in the hallways, any place other than the public meeting because we're forbidden to do it," said Richard Hollow, attorney for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"If it was deliberation, to which we strongly argue is absurd, than the discussions and the votes during the committee meeting on January 22nd cured any such alleged deficiencies," said Knox County Law Director John Owings.

"We've got to get back to the fact that we are a government of the people, for the people, and by the people," said attorney for the citizens', Herb Moncier.

The jury's answers to the questions will ultimately determine what Chancellor Daryl Fansler decides.

If it proves the county commission violated the Sunshine Law, there will be an injunction against the commission to prevent it from happening again and a redo of the appointment process could be reordered.

Be sure to stay with Volunteer TV and for Continuing Coverage of the Sunshine Trial, including live streaming of the verdict when it comes down.

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