Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


Afternoon Session Notes

1:00 Mr. John Schmid takes the stand. He says he was sorry that more members of the commission did not join him in appealing the decision that struck down term limits. When Ms. Stackhouse reminded him that she and John Owings joined in on that appeal, he reminded her that they only did so for the commissioners,and not the fee offices and sheriff. He also reminded her that she and Mr. Owings tried to have him removed as a third party to the appeal.

Mr. Schmid then testified that he was met after the press conference where Mayor Ragsdale made his proposal by Chairman Moore and Commissioner Lambert, who were very angry with him for supporting public hearings. Ms.Stackhouse asks a very general question, then allows the witness to respond at length. Hollow and Moncier ask very pointed direct questions requiring a yes or no answer.

I heard well before the meeting of the 31st that Cate and Tramel were locked in for the district 4 seats.

I talked with Commissioners Moore, Lambert, Ballard, Smith, Norman, Hammond. I didn't offer to trade votes, just asked for their support for my choice for my seat, just as I would support their choice for their seats.

I tried to pitch Mr. Fischer as a compromise candidate, since there was a power struggle between the mayor's faction and the sheriff's faction.

Schmid testified that Commissioner Griess told him that RIchard Cate was being sworn in early to break the deadlock. He confronted Mr. Cate and convinced him not to swear in early, and then had some "heated words" with Commissioners Lambert and Pinkston.

Schmid admits that he spent a lot of time during the recesses trying to convince Mr.Guthe not to pass, and to vote for Scott Davis.

Mr. Hollow begins his cross.
"Were there certain power structures in place in Knox County Government?" "Yes."
"Do you believe there was a contemptuous attitude displayed towards the law and the citizens of Knox County on the part of certain commissioners in the appointment process?" "Yes"
(The above question and answer was objected to and removed from the record of the trial.)

Mr. Schmid testifies that the agenda for the special meeting on Jan 31st never went through the agenda committee.

Mr. Hollow went through the meeting of the 31st.

Mr. Schmid testifies that the Supreme Court did not place a time limit on the proceedings, and there was no reason to hurry.

Mr. Hollow makes the point that by Chairman Moore's rules, there was no chance for the commission to publicly discuss the candidates and their merits, and Commissioner Schmid agrees that that was the case.

Mr. Hollow points out that by the rules Chairman Moore set up, the only time the commissioners could deliberate with each other was during recesses.

Mr. Hollow points out that the agenda showed the swearing in would occur at 2:00PM but no vote was taken to modify the agenda to allow Mr. Cate and Mr. Bolus to be sworn in early.

Mr. Schmid says he knew early on that the four county offices were a "done deal," and that there were invitations circulating for a reception for the new sheriff well before the 31st.

Mr. Schmid says he believes there was a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Hollow almost seemed to be the one testifying during this entire cross. Mr. Schmid spent most of his time nodding his head and agreeing with Mr.Hollow. I asked Mr. Hollow about this during a break, and he told me that leading questions are allowed during a cross examination. I think he went beyond leading questions to tying a bridle to the witness. But Ms.Stackhouse never objected.

2:00 Mr. Moncier begins his cross: The only thing different from the normal operations is that the events of the 31st raised the curtain on the way the government works. Schmid agrees.

Mr. Moncier points out that term limits were passed in 1994, and Schmid testified that the State AG at the time ruled the term limits unconstitutional. Moncier leads Schmid through a history of the term limits legislative battle in Tennessee. Ms. Stackhouse objected repeatedly to the long drawn out nature of the questioning, as it moved far afield from the issues of the trial, namely, did the commissioners deliberate in private. Mr. Moncier points out the contrast between Commissioner Schmd, who retained a lawyer who filed an appeal to the Weaver decision which held term limits unconstitutional, with the behavior of Commission Chairman Moore and his frequent and lengthy conversations with lawyer/lobbyist "Prince" John Valliant before and during the Jan 31st meeting.

He asked if Mr. Schmid saw conversations and lobbying going on during the recesses of Jan 31st. He testified that he saw Diane Jordan in a conversation during a recess with Commissioners Pinkston, Lambert, and Moore & Hutchinson (maybe), after which she changed her vote from Davis to Tramel.

2:20 Ten minute break

2:35 Former Commissioner John Griess called to the stand:

Ms. Stackhouse asked how he prepared for the appointment process. He said he started off trying to find a mechanism other than appointment. Griess said that (paraphrase) when it became apparent that we would have to appoint rather than elect, it was my job to find a candidate that was capable and knowledgeable about the history of the government. IN this process, I floated names past Craig Leuthold and Mike Hammond to get their response, and that's how I came up with Frank Leuthold. (end paraphrase)

Griess said the only commissioner that really lobbied him was Lumpy Lambert. He then remembered about BIlly Tindell lobbied him for the clerk's position. Ms. Stackhouse asked why he didn't sign onto the call for a special meeting and he replied that at that time, he was still trying to get a special election.

2:49 Cross by Mr.Hollow: Griess testified that he wanted a special election so he didn't have to do it himself. An appointment is very difficult and costly politically and personally.

(Short break while Chancellor Fansler was apprised of the birth of his grandchild.) Mr. Hollow briefly went through the events of Jan 31st,paying attention to the early seating of Chucky Bolus.

2:58 Cross by Mr. Moncier: Nothing major. Just that there was a phone call from Scott Moore. Mr. Griess testified that Mr.Moore only wanted to know who he was going to nominate for his seat.

3:03 Craig Leuthold takes the stand: Ms. Stackhouse examined his reaction to his father being appointed to commission. Craig Leuthold says he was trying to get out from his father's shadow, so he wasn't thrilled to have him on the commission. She asked him how he prepared for the appointment process. Leuthold said he read the resumes, faxes, emails, and letters from constituents and applicants.We've heard several times about the huge volume of interest in joining the county commission. How is it that we ended up with relatives/friends/associates of current or former commissioners?

Ms. Stackhouse asks if he had any conversations regarding appointments with any other commissioners? "I didn't want to be a part of any possible deal making because my father serve with integrity, and I'm trying to do the same thing."

Ms. Stackhouse asks if he had interaction with Commissioner Pinkston during the meeting on the 31st? Commissioner Leuthold answered yes, that Commissioner Pinkston asked him if he wanted him to vote for his Daddy. Leuthold testified that he hadn't asked anyone to vote for his father to that point and he wasn't about to start.

Mr.Hollow begins his cross: Revisits the interaction with Commissioner Pinkston and introduces a photograph depicting that meeting. Asks him if he decided to support the nominee of the term limited commissioners. He answered that it was a factor, but not the only one. The Mr.Hollow ran down a list of Mr.Leuthold's votes and for the most part, they did go along with the recommendations of the term limited commissioners.

Mr. Hollow asks again about the agenda,and again,Mr.Leuthold, like the other commissioners before him doesn't know who or how the agenda was written,and that he never voted on it.

Hollow: "Were you surprised that Mr. Bolus was sworn in early?" "Yes"

Hollow asks if Mr. Leuthold makes more money now that you're on the commission,and he says yes,about $17k.

3:37 Mr. Moncier begins his cross: Mr. Leuthold got a promotion from Fred Sisk after the commission meeting leading to his increase in income. Mr. Moncier asks if Commissioner Leuthold was elected because of his father's name. Leuthold responds that he campaigned very hard for his position.Moncier is making a big deal about the raise given to him by Fred Sisk. As innuendo it's effective but it would be more convincing if we had his full pay history available. There may be a very good reason why he got that raise.

Moncier then moves on to the phone records. There are only a few calls on the record. Mr. Moncier tries to get Commissioner Leuthold to admit to there being two factions on the board but Mr. Leuthold wasn't going along.

Mr Leuthold says that he knew they had 30 days to make the appointments, but couldn't tell the court where he knew it from. He also testified that Mr. Owings told him that a special election was not allowed by the law.

Mr. Moncier asked about the encounter between Mr. Leuthold and Mr. Pinkston. Mr.Leuthold had nothing to add and refused to characterize the encounter as an exchange.

A very brief redirect from Ms.Stackhouse that points out that Mr.Leuthold did not vote for Tramel.

3:56 Commissioner Ivan Harmon takes the stand. Ms. Stackhouse asked him how he prepared for the appointment process. He replied that he was happy that the 3rd district had no term limited commissioners,so his primary concern was the continued funding of on-going projects in his district. He said he attended the group meeting at Whittle Springs School.

Ms. Stackhouse asked of he and Ed Shouse encountered Commissioner Paul Pinkston at a Shoneys. Mr.Harmon said yes, but there was no deal making going on.

There was another meeting at another Shoneys with Greg Lambert and Mark Cawood. There was no discussion about nominations or appointments.

She asked about conversations during recesses from the Jan 31st meeting. He said there was one conversation with Mark Harmon on supporting his choice for fee office. Mr. Ivan Harmon declined to do so.

End of the day.
Posted by Rich
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<i>Ms.Stackhouse asks a very general question, then allows the witness to respond at length. Hollow and Moncier ask very pointed direct questions requiring a yes or no answer.</i>

That's the difference between direct examination and cross-examination.
Posted by Smaack  on  09/26  at  04:02 PM

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