Judge continues Moncier lawsuit, clears way for appointments

Knoxville (WVLT) -- High stakes in court, as a judge makes a ruling that could ultimately affect whether the county commission can move forward with the appointment process Wednesday.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has more.

A crisis is avoided.

The long-awaited appointment process can take place as scheduled Wednesday after Chancellor Daryl Fansler reschedules a hearing that could have led to the suspension of two county commissioners.

While the County Commission held committee meetings Tuesday morning, down the hall and upstairs a court was deciding whether to hold a hearing of it's own Wednesday.

The suit prompting this was filed by attorney Herb Moncier who represents several citizens who want commissioners Scott Moore and Paul Pinkston removed from office.

The suit claims they were the leaders and organizers when the commission violated the sunshine law in January 2007.

All the lawyers, except Moncier, want more time.

That includes Randy Nichols, who, as District Attorney General, is supposed to be involved in any ouster suit. He says, "As we understand there's an allegation of a violation of the open meetings act, there's an allegation or misrepresentations as we read it to mean these commissioners perjured themselves in your honor's court."

County Law Director John Owings and his staff will not represent the commissioners.

Moore and Pinkston hired private lawyers of their own last week. The judge agreed notice of the suit came too late to ask them to be ready for hearing Wednesday.

Commissioner Herb Moncier says, "Nothing in the law works on five days notice, so we'll just move forward to the next step."

The next step is for lawyers to meet with the Chancellor Friday morning.

They will decide when to schedule a jury trial to determine if Moore and Pinkston should be removed from office.

For now, the two will keep their commission seats.

They and the other nine commissioners will begin the very public appointment process at 9:00a.m. Wednesday.

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