Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In the view of history

In Friday's post, I detailed just how disappointed I was in the conduct and attitude of Knox County Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert. Yesterday, Richard Hollow, the attorney for the News-Sentinel, and Herbert Moncier, the attorney for nine suing citizens who have joined the paper's lawsuit alleging that the Knox County Commission broke the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, asked Chancellor Daryl Fansler to enter a default judgment of guilt against Lambert for failing to turn over his mobile phone records as requested by the Chancery Court.

Lambert's current reason for failing to turn over the requisite documents is that Crickett is his mobile telephone provider, and that company only keeps back records for six months. Problem number one makes itself apparent immediately when one considers that phone records were first requested by the Court in March, and had the Commissioner obtained the records and submitted them at that time, the submitted records would have included the January period the Court was most interested in.

However, Fansler noted, that Lambert had been asked in March to turn over the phone records. All other commissioners faced with similar requests complied. Lambert, Fansler noted, simply responded: “I do not have the records” and later added that he did not intend to get them.

Despite Crickett's policy of only maintaining records for six months, phone records are stored somewhere precisely in case they are needed for a legal proceeding, so if the records were subpoenaed, Crickett could provide them so long as Lambert were willing to cooperate. It has been clear throughout these proceedings that he does not.

For some reason that only God and Lumpy Lambert understand, the Commissioner seems to think himself above the law. It is not a matter of choice to comply with a Chancery Court order, you either comply or you face the consequences of not complying. If a person really believes that they are being persecuted unfairly by the justice system, it is their right and their prerogative to refuse to obey those orders-the crux is that they must face the consequences that come with disobeying the orders of the Court.

In Lambert's case, viewpoint-based persecution was not the object of the Chancellor's request, but to obtain the needed evidence to render a fair and sound judgment in what may become one of the most controversial trials in the two hundred and eleven year history of the State of Tennessee. When the history books are written long after The Knoxville News-Sentinel v. The Knox County Commission is decided, I believe that it may be determined to be a landmark case not just in Tennessee history, but in American history for determining the extent of how open the proceedings of our government are supposed to be. Somehow, I believe that Chancellor Fansler understands all too well the weight of his duties in this case and his responsibility to history.

With each passing hour that these proceedings drag on, I question whether Lumpy Lambert considers how history will view him...or does he even care?



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