The judge overseeing the case of Sheriff Eric Watson said he would issue a decision within the next few days on whether the charges against the sheriff would be dismissed or the case would go to …
The judge overseeing the case of Sheriff Eric Watson said he would issue a decision within the next few days on whether the charges against the sheriff would be dismissed or the case would go to trial.
Judge Don Ash presided over a hearing on the motion to dismiss Wednesday morning.
Watson is charged with 12 felony counts of having or using vehicle titles that were either forged or altered.
The sheriff has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Harrell told the judge the charges that were brought against the sheriff by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, which has the authority over vehicle sales, would be the only charges pursued against Watson.
That means the allegations brought against the sheriff by Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls, which were presented to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, will not enter into any case against the sheriff.
Attorney James Logan, who represents Watson, explained the statute used in charging the sheriff says that no one may "hold or use the document" for fraudulent purposes.
He argued the statute is not specific in defining exactly what "document" is meant, nor does it include any requirement for fraudulent intent.
"The question is what does 'the document' mean," Logan told the judge. "With no definition of 'document,' a person could not know they are committing a crime," Logan said. "This has never been used in this potential setting."
It was also noted during the hearing that no one has ever been charged under the statute since the law was passed more than 70 years ago.
"Our position is just because you can't [find where any charges were made under the statute] does not mean you are not allowed to do that anymore. Somebody has to be first," Harrell said. "At the end of the day, we are asking the court to read it strictly as it was enacted."
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