Lawsuit vs. RH board continued

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

Ill health has sidelined the trial to remove three Rock Hill school board members.

The trial was scheduled to have started Monday morning in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, but visiting judge Fred Crow said board member Wanda Jenkins was hospitalized. He told prospective jurors to call on Tuesday and see if the trial could continue sometime later in the week.

A common pleas court official confirmed Tuesday the trial will be continued until Oct. 11.

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"The tentative plan is to inquire of the board member and her doctor and hospital when she might be available," Crow said. "… If we can't continue later in the week the next date would be in October."

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital spokesman Kevin Compton said Jenkins was listed in stable condition as of noon Monday.

Eric Schooley, one of two attorneys for the plaintiffs, Citizens Against Poor Spending (CAPS), said he was disappointed that the trial had to be delayed.

"We've been working on the case quite a while, almost all of last week, talking to witnesses, getting our ducks in a row," Schooley said. Moving it back a couple of months makes trying the case "impractical."

The attorney for the defendants, Steve Rodeheffer, was not available for comment.

Whether it was the notoriety of this particular case or the inconvenience of serving on any jury, some prospective jurors were more than ready to be dismissed from service altogether and spoke up as soon as crow announced the case would be delayed.

"I have orthopedic surgery Wednesday," one man said.

"I guess we won't throw you in jail, then," Crow replied.

Another prospective juror said she had had a stroke and suffers from short-term memory loss. She asked if this would preclude her from serving.

"You'll need a doctor's note," Crow told her.

"I got it with me," she said quickly.

He admonished jurors not to read anything about the trial or discuss the matter with anyone or form an opinion about the case.

The group Citizens Against Poor Spending (CAPS) filed its lawsuit in late March, seeking to remove Wanda Jenkins, Lavetta Sites and Paul R. Johnson from the five-member board, citing more than 80 acts of "malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance of office." The three board members deny the accusations.

The case was originally scheduled to be heard by Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton. The first delay came when the defendants told Walton they had not been notified of a date for their court.

The trial was delayed again when Walton stepped aside because of a scheduling conflict and Crow was appointed to hear the case.