Trial Dates Set on Municipal Schools Issues



Federal Judge Hardy Mays has set trial dates for two separate questions underlying the municipal schools issue.

The trial on the constitutionality of the state law allowing the formation of districts is set for September 4th. The question is whether the law applies specifically to Shelby County. The discussion between Mays and attorneys in court Friday indicated there will be expert witnesses on the possible applicability to other counties in Tennessee.

The trial date for the U.S. Constitution "equal protection" claim is set for November 6th, which also happens to be election day. That trial, if it happens, could be a landmark, involving as it does claims of segregation in what is the biggest school system merger in American history.

If Mays rules that the law is unconstitutional, that could void the results of the August 2nd election. It now appears that the election will not only go on as scheduled, as Mays ruled Thursday, but also that the votes will be counted and the election certified by August 20th.

Mays said he would not rule from the bench in either case so, assuming the trials go forward, a resolution could be some months away. He also raised the possibility that the various parties could "spend a fortune for experts" and that some expert witnesses could possibly be used in both trials.

All in all, it was a light-hearted session after Thursday's marathon, with Mays and the attorneys joshing about holidays, birthdays, and caseloads.

"I've already got 150 cases for Judge (John) Fowlkes," said Mays of the newest member of the federal bench.

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