District 6 dispute still unclear

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

After another hearing in the District 6 election contest, there are still no answers on just what the dispute is over.

District 6 Commissioner Karen Berry, whose Nov. 4 victory is being contested, and her opponent Oren Fannin made copies of several election materials in court Tuesday, after Lannett Judge Joel Holley ruled in a previous hearing to allow the procedure.

On request of Fannin, represented by attorney Joel Lee Williams, copies were made of the voter registration list, the polling lists and the absentee ballot affidavits, which contain the ballots, all for the district.

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Now, Williams said he and Fannin will review the materials to determine just what it is his client contests.

“We’ll just have to sit down and go through the material,” Williams said. “I’ll know it when I see it.”

Though Fannin has not said what he is disputing, it likely has to do with absentee ballots, questionable voters or people voting outside of District 6, based on the materials collected in court.

This case, which comes after Fannin fell to Berry by just six votes in the Nov. 4 election for Pike County Commission’s open seat, will likely go to trial within the coming months, Holley said.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Holley said Fannin and Williams will be given around 10 days to review the evidence and notify Berry of the allegations made against her.

Then, Berry and her attorney Frank Ralph will be given some more time to make a case in defense.

“We don’t know what they’re contesting so we can’t evaluate at a length of time,” Ralph said. “The law says it has to be 10 days before the trial, so that’s not really adequate time.”

But, Williams said he should be able to present the complaint to the plaintiff with more time to spare. Holley said while he is unsure of the timeframe, it should move quickly now that evidence has been placed in both party’s hands. The trial will not go before a jury, and Holley said this type of case takes precedence over others.