Newspaper, Knox Co. Face Off on Sunshine Law

By: A judge is considering whether the Knox County Commission must defend itself against a newspaper's lawsuit.

Chancellor Daryl Fansler heard arguments yesterday in the lawsuit brought by Knoxville News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy against the commission.

The subject of the suit is a January 31st commission meeting in which eight commission seats and four county offices were filled through appointments after the state Supreme Court upheld a 1994 referendum on term limits.

The lawsuit claims commission members violated the state Sunshine Law when they discussed in private how to fill the vacancies.

Most commissioners admitted meeting in small groups outside the commission room to discuss the appointments, which included naming relatives of commissioners to 3 of the eight seats.

The county's deputy law director argued that it would have taken a quorum of the commissioners meeting in secret to violate the sunshine law. But the newspaper's attorney countered it only takes two commissioners meeting privately to violate state law.


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