Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

May 28, 2007

Special judge appointed to reopen Sweat case

Woman's plea tied to Gibson's dilemma

By Michael R. Moser / mmoser@crossville-chronicle.com

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice William M. Barker has filed an order in Putnam County Criminal Court reopening the case of Tina Marie Sweat and appointed Judge Donald P. Harris of Williamson County to hear the case "to its conclusion."

Sweat is the Cookeville area woman who was arrested in the raid of a methamphetamine lab on related charges who had her drug and assault charges wiped off her record with the assistance of District Attorney General William "Bill" Gibson. Gibson's actions have since drawn the attention of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility and that panel suspended Gibson's law license indefinitely last October.

During Gibson's hearing on his appeal of the suspension of his law license, witnesses testified about the Sweat case. One of those witnesses, Circuit Court Judge John Turnbull, testified that Gibson used his friendship with Turnbull to convince the judge to sign an order wiping Sweat's record clean without revealing to the judge that he (Gibson) had a friendship/relationship with Sweat.

The Herald-Citizen also reported last week that acting District Attorney General Tony Craighead confirmed that the Tennessee Attorney General's Office through the Tennessee DA's Conference has asked Craighead to "look into the Tina Sweat matter."

Craighead added that while he felt the matter needed a second look, he felt he would be in conflict, investigating his boss even though Gibson is currently banned from the DA's office.

Craighead is asking that a special prosecutor be appointed to look into the matter.

The Herald-Citizen at the time of Sweat's arrest reported that Sweat tossed a chemical agent associated with the clandestine production of meth in an officer's face when deputies served a search warrant on a residence just outside Cookeville.

Nothing new has happened concerning the suspension of Gibson's license since the Chronicle reported that Gibson's appeal had been denied.

He remains suspended with pay, drawing an annual salary of $125,000.