District 6 allegations sealed from public

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Allegations were filed in the District 6 Pike County Commission race Tuesday, but the documents are sealed to the public.

In the election contest filed by Oren Fannin against District 6 Commissioner Karen Berry, who won by just six votes in the Nov. 4 election, alleged “illegal votes” cast for Berry.

Requests to examine absentee ballot affidavits, polling lists and voter registration lists for the district were allowed at the request of Fannin and attorney Joel Lee Williams.

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The plantiffs were also allowed to hear the results of 40 absentee ballot votes in question in court March 30, and Williams said some of the allegations are contesting absentee ballots obtained by Berry.

But, since the filings from Williams contain voters’ names, Judge Joel Holley has ruled the allegations sealed for now.

“He’s had time now to review the ballots and also had the votes read out of certain ballot numbers,” Holley said. “When he filed, he left me a message that I might want to consider sealing it for the time being because they do contain names of some citizens, who I’m sure he’s alleging voted illegally.”

Holley said he isn’t sure whether the documents will remain sealed from the public until the trial date April 22, but at least until the individuals are subpoenaed, they will remain closed.

“It’s to preserve the integrity of the vote that I ordered it be put in an envelope,” Holley said. “The trial will be open to the public and Williams will have to subpoena these people and prove why he alleges their vote was invalid or illegal.”

While the documents are not made public, Holley said a copy has been given to Berry and her attorney Frank Ralph to give them time to prepare for trial.

The case will not be heard before a jury.