|Greg Isaacs, left, Jeff Ownby on right|
Man, what a weird hearing.
Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby was in court today and pleaded no contest to public indecency.
He could have paid a $500 and called it a day. Instead he asked for judicial diversion, which will wipe the record clean. In theory.
Ownby, whose job status is questionable (he said he was unemployed, then said he works part-time for a real estate company, and he also has a part-time commission job), told the judge that he was looking for work. He said he'd get to the third or fourth interview and be on his way to a job offer but would fail the background check.
Judicial diversion (I suppose he was suggesting) would get him out of all this.
Apparently, he's never heard of Google.
Anyhoo, the judge noted that because he sought diversion, he could then put some provisions in place.
And boy did he. He put Ownby on supervised probation for six months (that ain't free), told him to continue counseling (that ain't free) and told him to stay 100 yards away from Sharp's Ridge (that's free).
The kicker? Told him to write a letter “explicitly detailing” what he had done and to apologize. Then the judge changed his mind and told Ownby to just explain what he did and use general terms. Heh.
He told him that the letter must be entered into the Knox County Commission meeting minutes this month. Wow.
And, he told him to turn it over to the News Sentinel. Geez.
Further, the judge wanted it done by noon. (By the way, this is the letter, right smack here.)
None of this, of course, went over too well with Ownby's attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs.
The lawyer told the judge that he had some other pressing things he had to do. The judge told him to cancel them. Isaacs then wanted to know how he would get the letter to him. Judge said to email it. Isaacs then asked if he would get it. Judge told him: “Uh yeah. On my phone. I got one of those phones that's smarter than me.”
(On a side note, Isaacs needs to get a new phone. The guy drives around in a gazillion dollar car a wears some seriously fancy clothes sans socks, and yet he owns a 2-cent phone. But I digress.)
The judge, Blount County's William Brewer, again stressed that he wanted the letter by noon and to the media by 2 p.m. He said for Ownby it's “kind of like ripping the Band-Aid off . . . and he can get on with his life.”
At one point, he also said: I've been on the bench 24 years now and one thing I've found consistent is that human beings are interesting creatures. Why we do what we do is very intriguing . . . and by all accounts from what I've heard today and from what I've read, Mr. Ownby is a good man and a good citizen . . .”
Well, we'll see what happens on May 28.