MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The controversial Murfreesboro mosque hearing went before a judge Wednesday as plaintiffs tried to get access to 31,000 emails sent between three Rutherford County officials.
The plaintiff's attorney, Joe Brandon, believes those emails contain proof that Rutherford County officials secretly passed the mosque building permit without the public's knowledge, but a judge ruled that requesting more than 30,000 emails is simply too broad.
"The question that continues to come up is: what is the government trying to hide in this case?" Brandon asked the Chancellor Robert Corlew III.
It's that assumption that led attorney Joe Brandon to request all correspondence between three Rutherford County officials including the county mayor, planning director and assistant planning director.
"It's shady dealings, it's hide the ball, that's the type of government that we have at this particular time," said Brandon.
But County Attorney Josh McReary said the request is irrelevant and dragging on the case even further, saying.
"That is just evidence that the plaintiffs are fishing for anything that they can hang a hat on that's what's happening," said McReary.
The open records request totaled more than 31,000 emails dating back to December, 2009. McReary argued many could contain personal information and should be screened.
"Since we are not limiting to this case, we would have emails related to other employees, HIPPA related health info, we could have social security information," McReary added.
The judge agreed and ordered Brandon to request specific key search terms.
"The bottom line is, we just want the truth to come out. If there were no emails we want to show that as well. We are not trying to run a game or hide the ball. We just want to put the truth out there whatever it is," Brandon said in response to that.
Outside the courthouse, Brandon's supporters held signs that read 'Stop the cover up', hoping for enough proof to end the mosque construction.
"This mosque isn't going to be a productive religious establishment rather a detrimental political organization and it will ultimately be harmful to our community," said David Culkin.
Brandon now has until March 14 to come up with specific search terms to look through those 31,000 emails. County officials have until the March 16 to submit objections to those words.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is supposed to be located on 15 acres on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreesboro city limits.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 2:24 PM EDT2013-06-19 18:24:42 GMT
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