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Several Current and Former Commissioners Testify in Sunshine Lawsuit

By: Kim Bedford Email
By: Kim Bedford Email

Knox County (WVLT) - New information has surfaced after several Knox County Commissioners took the stand in the Sunshine Trial.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford was in court all day and has the latest.

The Knoxville News Sentinel and several citizens are accusing the Knox County Commission of violating the state's Open Meetings Law when the appointed several commission seats in January.

Five former and present county commissioners took the stand on Tuesday.

Term-limited commissioner Paul Pinkston talked about a News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy/Mayor Mike Ragsdale faction, claiming the two have an agenda together.

Commissioner Josh Jordan's prior problems with drugs brought up talks of a possible impeachment.

"You can't judge a book by its cover," said attorney Herb Moncier, who's representing the citizens in the lawsuit.

The day started out with a debate over newly appointed commissioner Josh Jordan's criminal past.

Chancellor Daryl Fansler ruled no discussion about it in front of the jury.

"There were some things about your past, Commissioner Jordan, you did not put in your resume, is that correct?" asked Moncier.

"Yes," Jordan replied.

Former Commissioner Larry Clark, who had to leave office because of term limits, then took the stand.

He revealed a seven-member committee he and Paul Pinkston, also term-limited, put together to help appoint someone to the 9th district.

"The meetings of these seven were not public, were they, sir?" asked the attorney paper's attorney, Richard Hollow

"I do not know when the meetings were, so I'm going to have to say yes to that," said Clark.

Things quickly heated up between Moncier and former commissioner Pinkston over phone conversations, Pinkston claims he couldn't remember.

"I never talked to Scott Moore about any way to handle that, any appointment I made or asked him to vote for anybody and he's never asked me to vote for anybody, sir," said Pinkston.

Former commissioner John Mills told the jury he knew nothing about back room deals on January 31, which is when the plaintiffs allege the violation of the open meetings law happened.

"I wasn't in the back room. I didn't ever leave my seat. I don't know, sir," said Mills.

Every term-limited commissioner testified they never deliberated prior to January 31st.

Knox County Deputy Law Director Mary Ann Stackhouse says they'll have a full day of witness testimony Wednesday.


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