Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

January 4, 2007

Attorneys, judges meet with architect to review Justice Center plans

County commission, public not notified of meeting

By Gary Nelson / Chronicle staffwriter

Several attorneys and judges from the 13th Judicial District met Wednesday evening at the Cumberland County Justice Center in order to discuss the proposed expansion of the Justice Center.

However, the meeting, which was called by 1st District Cumberland County Commissioner Harry Sabine, was not a public meeting and fellow members of the Cumberland County Commission, nor the media or the public, were not notified of the meeting.

Sabine, who is a practicing attorney with an office in Crossville, said, "This was not a meeting as such with the building and grounds committee. It was an informal discussion meeting."

Sabine, who called the meeting with the judges and attorneys, said the purpose of the meeting was for Architect Kim Chamberlin of Upland Design Group to present the proposed plans for the Justice Center expansion to the judges and attorneys of the judicial district.

"I was not trying to hide anything and it was not intended. The meeting was just to get input ... and I can tell you that there was enough concern brought up by the judges and attorneys that we will call a buildings and grounds committee meeting to discuss their concerns with the committee. We will have a committee meeting in the near future," Sabine said.

Cumberland County Mayor Brock Hill's office had no notice of the meeting either.

"We did not know about the meeting or I would have sent out the appropriate notice," Cumberland County Mayor Brock Hill said.

Sabine said the meeting was not intended to be a public meeting, but rather an informal information meeting for the judges and attorneys who will use the Cumberland County Justice Center.

Ninth District Commissioner Carmin Lynch, who questioned Chamberlin where the figures for the square footage came from in the plans for the expansion, expressed disappointment.

"I'm not very happy we weren't notified. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to hear the information first hand. I'm not sure what authority he was acting under by calling that meeting," 9th District Commissioner Carmin Lynch said.

If any committee or governmental body meeting is called to discuss the Justice Center expansion, adequate public notice should be made, according to the Tennessee Sunshine Law.

The meeting, although informal, is part of the decision making process.