Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 27, 2007

Gibson to testify as defense attorneys wrap up case before state licensing board

Regulatory board expected to follow with evidence against reinstatement of law license

Full disclosure, cooperation, remorse and counseling are reasons District Attorney General Bill Gibson should have his license to practice law reinstated, witnesses testified Monday before a panel of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

There were no surprises and no bomb shells as 13 witnesses testified during the first day of what is expected to be a two-day hearing on whether the BPR should lift the suspension. Gibson has appealed the open-ended suspension.

It is believed this is the first time a sitting state prosecutor has had his license suspended.

In opening remarks, counsel for the BPR laid out its case centering around at least 11 letters Gibson sent to self-confessed killer Christopher Adams over a two-year period, the content of which raised serious ethics questions. In addition, Gibson’s interaction and legal counseling of Adams without his attorney’s knowledge raised more ethics issues.

And Gibson’s role in the Tina Marie Sweat case is also expected to be a center piece of BPR’s case. Sweat was charged in November 2002 with manufacturing methamphetamine, aggravated child abuse, aggravated assault, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The case evolved into pre-trial diversion for Sweat, whose relationship with Gibson has been called into question. The case has since been expunged from the record and today Sweat, who was 27 at the time of her arrest, is in law school. However, the judge, John Turnbull, who signed off on the pre-trial diversion, believes he was misled and he has since filed a complaint against Gibson.

On one hand, supporting witnesses described Gibson as a prosecutor who would go after any criminal regardless of political connections or ramifications. Nearly all described him as compassionate and caring when it comes to victims of crimes and his staff.

Perplexing to the state agency charged with guarding the integrity of a law license is understanding how this same prosecutor could become an ally for a convicted killer and someone charged in a methamphetamine case.

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