Mistrial declared in Confederate Flag case

Posted: Aug 15, 2008
Reporter: Stephen McLamb

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)– After twelve hours of deliberations over three days, a federal judge declares a mistrial in the case of an Anderson County student who filed suit after not being allowed to wear clothing with confederate symbols to school.

Tommy DeFoe is disappointed the jury could not reach the verdict he wanted, but that’s not stopping him.

The court will have to set a new trial date and do it all over again.

For DeFoe, he may not have won the war, but he feels at least he’s won a battle.

"If I hadn’t have stood up for my rights, everybody else’s right, hadn’t have stood up for the South and the Confederate flag nobody else would."

Tommy DeFoe says his commitment to his cause is as strong as ever, even after a federal judge declared a mistrial after jurors said they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

But DeFoe’s attorney Van Irion believes it was close.

"Based on juror reactions during the trail the jurors were for our side and that there was one we were pretty sure was pretty adamant against us."

Defense attorney Arthur Knight disagrees saying he doesn’t believe Irion knows what the jury’s positions were, but Irion he they offered to lower the bar and let the jurors continue deliberating for a less than unanimous verdict but the defense declined.

Knight says, "Maybe this is just my Christian background but that’s maybe a little bit more gambling than I like to do."

As the parties wait for a new trial date, could there be a settlement?

Anderson County School Board Chariman Dr. John Burrell says, "I don’t think we can settle as long as we have the same policy with the Board of Education."

Because they didn’t lose, Irion hopes this will at least put other school districts banning the flag on notice.

Irion says, "If you’re banning things based on the fact it’s offensive, that violates the Constitution."

So for now, DeFoe hopes to pull back, reorganize and one day be back on the battlefield.

DeFoe says, "Nobody else would because nobody’s going to do it because everybody’s scared of them and I ain’t scared of them, and this ain’t overwith. It ain’t over.”

We attempted to talk to five of the eight jurors after the trail to find out just how many people were holding up a unanimous verdict but they declined comment.

Irion hopes the court will set a new trial date next week.

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