Knoxville (WVLT) - A Knox County Chancellor has determined failing to provide evidence is not proof of guilt, so the lawsuit against the Knox County Commission continues, despite a motion to find one commissioner in default.
Chancellor Daryl Fansler listens to testimony during the News-Sentinel Sunshine Law Lawsuit
Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd lays out the claim, the commissioners response, and why the focus again is on cell phone conversations.
Lawyers for a citizens group and the editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel maintain that commissioners used cell phones to broker and bargain who would replace 12 term limited county office holders and deny citizens a say.
But the commissioner in question says he simply talks a lot.
Greg "Lumpy" Lambert, Knox Co. Commissioner says, "I would like to get those phone records, I've made attempts to get those phone records, they need to be subpoenaed."
With relief, Lambert hears the chancellor rule that finding him in default or guilty of violating tn opening meetings law is too severe a punishment for failing to turn over his cell phone records.
Daryl Fansler, the Knox Co. Chancellor says, "simply put, there's no reasonable explanation for why those records are still unavailable."
Lambert says, "I've always said I didn't have them. You'll have to talk to Cricket, I didn't believe they existed for 6 months. "
But if they do exist, Lambert maintains, they'll show exactly what records from other commissioners have produced.
"They reflect conversations, not deliberations, and had the phone records have been produced, they would show I have a lot of conversations."
Scott Moore, the Knox Co. Commission Chairman says, "without the records, I'm not going to speculate who called me. You have the records."
In a testy give and take, Moore insists that pictures of him on his cell phone imply nothing.
Let alone secret deals being brokered during breaks between votes to replace term limited officials.
But plaintiffs attorneys say he had plenty of motive to bargain.
Herb Moncier, the lawyer for Citizens Group says, "you've lost your power base when your buddies were term limited."
Plaintiff attorneys read depositions from several commissioners, all of whom expressed surprise that commissioner appointee Chuck Bolus swore in early, then voted to break the tie that had blocked filling another vacancy.
Richard Hollow, lawyer for News Sentinel Editor says, "Mark said something's fishy, Chuck Bolus is sitting over there."
Lambert denies there were any backroom deals, just a lot of lobbying, and even testifies such.
"I have absolutely nothing to hide."