Hearing is Tuesday In Kingston, Tennessee

Court to consider whether Putnam County must treat as 'public'
records of payments to lawyers through a self-insurance fund

Chancellor Neal refuses to hear case because of family ties with McBroom
County paid lawyer Daniel Rader $110,209 over seven months, but they say it's none of your business what it's for; Rader also represents Criminal Court Clerk Lewis Coomer in his federal civil rights defense, which comes out of tax money.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. [June 18, 1998] -- The man who wrote Putnam County's public records law has gotten the county sued over how he wants that law applied to himself.

A hearing in Roane County General Sessions Court on Tuesday, June 23, will consider The Putnam Pit's demand to inspect Putnam County's correspondence and checkbook. The Putnam Pit argues that payments to the county's self-insurance fund that are later paid to lawyers are 'public records,' even if the lawyer is involved in current litigation.

The Putnam Pit asked County Executive Douglas McBroom on several occasions for access to records of payments to Daniel Rader and the Weatherly Law Firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Between them, they received $138,000 in checks from Putnam County written from Aug. 18, 1997 to March 20, 1998.

Weatherly Law Firm received nine checks totaling $27,958.57 from Putnam County between August 18, 1997 and March 20, 1998. Rader, who represents the county and county officials in a variety of matters  opposes release of records about himself to the public. He received six checks in seven months from one Putnam County account, totaling $110,209.

Rader, who drafted the county's public records law, has been advising the county on whether Rader's bills for legal services are public record.

The hearing is the first since The Putnam Pit and its editor, Geoff Davidian, filed a petition in Putnam County Chancery Court seeking immediate access to the files. Putnam County Chancellor Vernon Neal pulled himself off the case and arranged for the matter to be heard in Kingston.

Here are some facts from county records we received from another source.
Payable to Daniel Rader:

Check No.         Date               Amount

0756                 8/18/97          $ 2,312.85

0758                 8/21/97           33,937.65

0809                12/18/97           39,769.34

0812                1/16/98              3,214.00

0825                3/10/98              8,977.34

0828                3/20/98             20,997.97


 Payable to the Weatherly Law Firm

Check No.         Date                 Amount

0777                   10/08/97         $ 552.00

0778                   10/8/97           6,793.56

0783                   10/14/97          4,649.96

0797                    11/4/97           3,368.46

0806                    12/15/97         4,246.02

0818                      2/9/98           4,824.00

0819                      2/9/98           2,408.28

0823                      2/27/98            470.02

0831                      3/20/98            646.27

                                              $ 27,958.57
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