Lewis Coomer, the clerk of circuit and general sessions courts who is seeking re-election, is also being sued in a federal civil rights action for keeping convicted thief Michael Chambers in jail despite an order from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals to release him pending an appeal. Meanwhile, Coomer has not explained how his taking of per diem jailer's fees from Putnam County Jail inmates was legal.
Cookeville's city council
has seen five federal civil rights cases brought during its tenure.
City Manager Jim Shipley is named in three of those cases -- two brought
by this newspaper and
one by former Police Chief
Richard Holt, while City Attorney T. Michael O'Mara is named
in one, in addition to a malpractice
suit brought by a former client who claimed O'Mara neglected his case
and cost him $600,000. Meanwhile, O'Mara, who charged taxpayers more than
$10,000 for prosecuting a single traffic violation, is running for district
Possibly the most damning of the cases is that brought by Police officer Reno Martin, who alleges in his federal complaint that former Police Captain Wayne Bandy frequently put a loaded gun to Martin's head and terrorized him for years. When former Chief Holt investigated and found other illegal activity in the department, Shipley fired him, Holt's suit alleges.