JUDGE DECLARES MISTRIAL IN TENNESSEE FLAG CASE
Saturday, August 16, 2008
KNOXVILLE, TN – Federal Judge Thomas Varlan today declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury in the case of Tommy Defoe, a former Anderson County High School student who sued his school board over its ban of Confederate clothing and symbols. Significantly, according to SLRC records, this was the first Confederate flag school free speech case actually to go to a jury this generation.
The eight-person Jury had deliberated for a total of 13 hours over three days after getting the case on Wednesday afternoon.
Defoe’s attorneys, former Southern Legal Resource Center board member Van Irion and SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons, immediately stated they will seek a new trial. According to Lyons, Varlan will hold a status conference in 2-3 weeks.
“Short of actually winning in this first round, we are now absolutely where we want to be,” said Lyons. “This shows how strong a case we have, and now we get to do it again with another jury. Tommy Defoe says “Bring it on!”
Reports indicated the jury was hung at 7-1 in favor of Defoe. Witnesses who had observed the trial closely intuited that the seven pro-flag votes included four transplanted Yankee jury members, with the lone holdout being a local Tennessean. “That’s speculation, of course, but it’s educated speculation,” said SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie.