Ball in Barnes court for in Mayor’s trial

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2005

MARION-As the contest of the Marion Mayor’s election continues in the court system the ball is now in attorney Jim Barnes court. When challenger Robert Bryant’s attorney Robert Turner rested his case Tuesday the burden fell to Barnes to prove his client should remain mayor.

Barnes continued to hammer away Wednesday reviewing affidavits and applications one by one with Bryant on the stand. Many times Barnes asked Bryant to look at some of the questionable affidavits and applications witnessed by his supporters to see if signatures did not match.

Barnes asked Bryant to take an objective look at the documents as if he had never seen them before. This sparked a quick objection from Turner. Turner said there was no way this could be done.

“We object on the grounds that this is an impossible situation,” Turner said. “There is no way he can sit there and do that. It is an impossible situation.”

This was the case for much of that day. Despite the question by Bryant’s side, Barnes said he felt his case was building steam.

“I feel like things went very well today,” Barnes said. “We proved a lot of ballots introduced by Mr. Bryant having to do with lack of signatures on the application didn’t have a proper residence address and one or two other grounds.”

Barnes said he felt like his case was shaping up. Barnes said he did not feel that the case against him was enough to take the election from Long.

“We feel like we are in good shape,” Barnes said. “They have yet to prove there is sufficient evidence against Long’s ballots that they ought to be taken away from his total in the election.”

One of the biggest questions on Bryant’s side has been affidavits and applications with the address of P.O. Box 515 and 536. Turner spent several days arguing a suspicious amount of documents appeared with this address. Barnes said there had been no solid proof of any wrongdoing. Barnes sad there were even ballots for Mr. Bryant containing these addresses.

“They have made a big production out of these ballots that were sent to P.O. Box 515 and 536,” Barnes said. “You now have in evidence ballots that were voted for Mr. Bryant that were sent alleged to have been mailed to those P.O. Boxes. They also have no proof whatsoever that any of them were in fact mailed to either of those P.O. Boxes.”

Barnes said in Wednesday’s proceedings he felt they had proven this and would continue to do so through their remaining witnesses.

“We have proved as far as our case today, that one of those ballots that they are claiming was mailed to the P.O. Box was mailed to the residence address,” Barnes said. “The other examples of that will be introduced in the rest of our case and the additional witnesses will testify to that.”

Barnes said he felt confident when the trial came to a close Long would remain mayor.

As the trial continues to wind down a decision seems to be only days away. When that decision comes there will be three options. There will be a runoff election, Long will remain mayor or Bryant will be named mayor.

Barnes said when the ruling comes down he feels they will have presented enough evidence to prove his case and cast sufficient doubt over Bryant’s.

“We feel like it should be the option of Long should still be the mayor,” Barnes said. “We feel like the evidence will make that clear. If he rules one way or the other each party is going to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Barnes said if the judge found against Long he would without question appeal to the Supreme Court.