Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

April 29, 2014

Federal appeals panel to review Eaton case

Date set for June 20, but attorney has conflict

GLASGOW — A June date has been set for oral arguments before a three-judge appeals panel in the federal criminal case against former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton.

His attorney has, however, asked for that date to be changed due a conflict in his schedule.

Eaton was convicted last May in U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, on two counts of witness tampering, after he was accused of violating Billy Randall Stinnett’s rights by beating him during his arrest and then attempting to conceal what happened. The jury acquitted him of any charges relating to the alleged physical attack.

He was sentenced in August to 18 months in the penitentiary, but he was allowed to remain free pending appeal.

A letter filed Thursday from a calendar deputy for the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals informed Eaton’s attorney, J. Guthrie True, and Erin H. Flynn, a U.S. Department of Justice attorney in the Civil Rights Division, Appellate Section, that the oral argument was scheduled for June 20 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each side would have 15 minutes. The letter contains other instructions for the attorneys as well.

“You should be aware that in preparing for the case the panel may conclude that, although the matter has been scheduled for oral argument, it will not be necessary to go forward with the argument,” the letter said.

In that event, the panel would decide the case on the basis of the appeal briefs filed by the attorneys along with the case record, it said.

“Continuances of oral argument will be granted only in exceptional circumstances, upon the motion of counsel,” the letter concluded. “Counsel is strongly discouraged from seeking continuances … .”

True’s motion for continuance was filed Tuesday, noting he has been committed “for many months” to serve as a speaker at the Kentucky Bar Association annual convention at 8:30 a.m. June 20, the exact same time he is supposed to report for the oral argument.

True said he has learned the court will have a panel session the morning of June 19 as well, and he could be available then, should the court choose to reschedule for that date. He asked that if it can’t be on the 19th, that it be later, and noted a cluster of four other days that would pose as a conflict for him.

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