Barnes continues to bring witnesses

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 5, 2005

MARION-In day eight of proceedings for the contest of the Marion Mayor’s race the pace continued as promised.

Current Mayor Tony Long’s attorney Jim Barnes continued to bring witnesses to the stand questioning them on ballot’s concerning documentation associated with challenger Robert Bryant. The point Barnes is attempting to prove is that there has been no solid proof of any sinister acts on the part of Long or his campaign team.

During the first week of the trial, Bryant’s attorney Robert Turner pointed out the addresses of P.O. Box 515 and 536 had appeared on a suspicious number of ballots. He also said many signatures did not appear to have been written in the same handwriting. Forms of identification were also called into question.

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Turner rested his case Tuesday and since that time Barnes has kept witnesses steadily moving to the stand. Barnes key argument has been there were several affidavits and applications in Bryant’s favor also had indiscretions.

Turner said the arguments put forth by Barnes were just as they thought they would be at this point.

“It is going about like we expected,” Turner said. “The contestant’s are trying to show that id they did anything wrong we did too.”

Turner said he expected them to continue their argument until they have concluded questioning.

“They are trying to produce evidence that illegal ballots were also filed in Mr. Bryant’s name too,” Turner said. “Obviously, anytime you have an election that is challenged that is what will happen and that is what is happening here.”

Turner added as far as their arguments of illegal documentation on Long’s behalf was concerned, they were confident they had provided sufficient evidence. Turner said he expected the arguments against them to do little to harm their testimony.

“I think we have proved most of our major points,” Turner said. “They are making some makeweight arguments, but that is about all.”

When the trial will come to a close remained a mystery as of Thursday. When a verdict comes down the odds are high that it will not bring the issue to a close.

There are three possibilities that may come from Judge Wiggins’s decision. A decision can be made for a runoff, a decision to keep Long in office, or to award the office to Bryant outright.

Both sides have hinted they would not settle for a decision against their client. It is likely the issue will have to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Proceedings will continue Friday morning at 9 a.m.