Testy term limits hearing goes into recess

Testy term limits hearing goes into recess

May 31, 2006 

By JOHN HANEY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- After a long day of verbal sparring among nearly a dozen attorneys, Knox County Chancellor John Weaver was not even close to making his decision on whether commissioners must abide by term limits.

Five county commissioners filed a lawsuit in April to stay on the August ballot. They include Diane Jordan, David Collins, Billy Tindell, Phil Guthe and John Griess. Each has served at least two four year terms since 1994.

The commissioners' lawsuit challenges the validity of the Knox County charter. That charter gives Knox County voters the authority to limit elected officials to two terms, under a ruling by the state Supreme Court in March.

The five commissioners argue Knox County did not properly enact the charter approved in 1990 that led to the term limits vote. So, they argue, it's now invalid.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing plaintiffs, defendants and interested third parties engaged in spirited, and sometimes angry, arguments.

Herb Moncier, representing one of the commissioners, and Knox County Law Department attorney Mary Ann Stackhouse were at odds all day long.

After an hour of post lunch objections and stipulations, the first witness, former Knox County Law Director Richard Beeler, finally took the stand.

By the time numerous rounds of direct and cross examinations concluded, time remained for only one more witness, before the chancellor had heard enough, calling a recess.

Court will resume at 9:30 Thursday morning, with still four or five more witnesses to be called.

They hope to be finished by the end of the day, but the way things are going, that is far from certain.

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