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Archives 10-04-2006

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Sells case dismissed, Patterson takes over
State Supreme Court suspends DA Bill Gibson's law license

New snow globes commemorate post office
Grant awarded to county for medical facility

 

Sells case dismissed, Patterson takes over

Robert Forsman/OCN
David Patterson took the chair at Overton County Justice Center as the 13th Judicial District Criminal Court judge on Monday, Oct. 2.

David Patterson began serving as a criminal court judge for the 13th Judicial District on Monday, Oct. 2.

After a 2-day chancery court trial in Cookeville last week, Judge Ben Cantrell dismissed Lillie Ann Sells' lawsuit contesting votes cast in the August 3 General Election for Criminal Court Judge for the 13th Judicial District.

Patterson had been sworn in on September 1, but was not allowed to serve until a ruling was given in the challenge. John Roberts had filled the position until Monday.

Sells had contested the election, in which she lost with 20,097 votes to Patterson's 20,106, by claiming many votes were ineligible.

In stating his decision on Wednesday, Sept. 28, Judge Cantrell ruled that only one or two votes should not have been counted. One was cast by a convicted felon in White County, and the other was an absentee ballot signed by someone who assisted the voter, with no witness signature present.

Judge Cantrell found no proof of any fraud, no allegations of any fraud, and no proof of conspiracy.

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State Supreme Court suspends DA Bill Gibson's law license

By MARY JO DENTON, Herald-Citizen staff with permission
District Attorney Bill Gibson has been temporarily suspended from practicing law and is still under investigation by the TBI.

But he said the assistant prosecutors in his office are at work as usual and that "work is on-going."

He also said he and his attorney, Jack Lowery, are planning to seek a hearing before the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility in hopes of restoring his privilege to practice law.

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Gibson's license Monday, Sept. 25 over ethics violations in Gibson's dealings with a man who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for robbing and murdering an elderly Putnam County woman in 2003.

A dozen or so letters that Gibson wrote to Chris Adams while his office was also prosecuting Adams show the DA giving legal advice and spiritual counseling to Adams and trying to help him find a way to get a shorter sentence. Gibson allegedly conducted this correspondence without the knowledge of Adams' attorney and also without the knowledge of David Patterson, the assistant district attorney who was actively involved in prosecuting Adams.

The letters came to light when Adams' most recently appointed attorney, Phil Parsons, began discussing the convict's petition for "post-conviction relief", a court filing in which he claimed the confession he had given was coerced and that his lawyer of that time, Public Defender David Brady, had not provided "effective" legal representation.

With Adams' conviction coming about through a plea bargain arranged by Gibson, attorney Parsons reportedly began advising his client of the risks and then Adams produced letters the DA had sent him, which offered hope that he could get his sentence reduced further.

Parsons turned the letters over to authorities, who launched an investigation, and soon afterwards, the Board of Professional Responsibility asked the Supreme Court to temporarily suspend Gibson's law license under a provision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which lists three types of misconduct that may be cited in a disciplinary case against a lawyer. The BPR cited Gibson under a provision used when an attorney is accused of posing "a threat of substantial harm to the public".

Gibson told the Herald-Citizen, "I know I've made mistakes. I've used bad judgment, and I've acknowledged it, but it hurts to be tagged as a 'threat to the public' when I've devoted 26 years of my professional life to protecting the public.

"Even though I used some poor judgment, at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. I felt it was right, but I know I went about it in the wrong way. I know I've crossed some ethical boundaries, but I hope to receive the proper sanctions and go on."

A TBI investigation of Gibson, which was started after the ethical violations complaints were made, is still underway and is reportedly focusing on his handling of other cases, including one in which a woman with methamphetamine convictions allegedly later had her criminal record expunged.

Gibson was elected district attorney in 1990 and had been a Cookeville Police officer for 10 years before that.

 

 

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New snow globes commemorate post office

Darren Oliver/OCN staff
Members of Overton County Merchants Association show off one of the new Livingston Post Office commemorative snow globes that are available just in time for Christmas at $20 each. The snow globes, which would make great holiday gifts, may be purchased at Overton County News. Prospective buyers are encouraged not to wait too long to place an order, as only 300 were made. For more information call (931) 823-6485.

 

Grant awarded to county for medical facility

Governor Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber recently approved a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist in constructing an emergency medical service facility in Overton County.

Gov. Bredesen said, "I'm glad the state of Tennessee can provide funding to improve healthcare and expand economic opportunities in communities like Overton County. The CDBG grants maintain and update community resources and improve the overall economic and environmental health of our state."

Funding for the $339,000 will include $39,000 in local funds. The funds were provided by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and were allocated under a procedure authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. The grants were approved by the ECD Loan and Grant Committee following an application by each county.

Commissioner Kisber said, "CDBG grants help Tennessee communities lay the groundwork for economic development through improvements to roads, water, and sewer facilities, and the overall quality of life. I'm proud the state of Tennessee can play a role in the progress of our communities."

The grant was approved following an application by Overton County, and has the support of County Mayor Kenneth Copeland, State Senator Charlotte Burks, and State Representative John Mark Windle. U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander along with Congressman Bart Gordon also aided in securing the funds.

State Sen. Burks said, "To see this kind of investment made in community improvement and economic development in Overton County is truly exciting. I know these funds will make life better for all the citizens in this area."

And State Rep. Windle added, "Such grants are a good example of long-range planning by local government. I give credit to our officials for their vision and willingness to do the work necessary to apply for CDBG funding. This is a win-win situation for our community and the state.

Allocation of CDBG funds is based on priorities set at local levels where community needs are best known. The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston' Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486
info@overtoncountynews.com


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