Knoxville Sunshine Law Trial Begins

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Knox County's Law Director says the vote that replaced 12 term limited elected officials did not violate Tennessee's Open Meetings Law. Rather its proof that no process is perfect and that court rulings determine the process.

Volunteer TV’s Gordon Boyd has been covering the lawsuit against county commissioners. He examines all of the arguments.

A citizen's group and the editor of the News Sentinel maintained the Tennessee's Open Meetings Law guarantees that every part of a decision making process be out where anybody can see or hear it. Instead they claim, the votes that appointed a sheriff, three fee office holders and 8 commissioners nearly rubber stamped a series of back room deals of friends, families and cronies.

Tennessee's open meetings law defines a public meeting as the convening of a public body for which a quorum, a voting majority is required to deliberate.

But the chance meeting of two or more elected officials to discuss pending business does not have to be in public, provided the meetings are not used to decide or deliberate public business. Knox County seems to be hanging its defense on straddling the fence between discussion and deliberation.

Attorney Herb Moncier says he will walk jurors through the meeting that set the rules for appointing the replacement officials. The News Sentinel's attorney says he will show emails and cell phone records that could indicate the commissioners knew they might be breaking the law three weeks before that notorious vote.

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