Judge orders expert witness info shared in Starkville mayoral race challenge


Johnny Moore, left, and Lynn Spruill

Johnny Moore, left, and Lynn Spruill



Alex Holloway



A judge has ordered Johnny Moore's legal team to provide supporting documentation to attorney's representing Lynn Spruill if they plan to have a Hinds County Republican testify during the trial for Moore's election challenge.


During a Friday morning hearing in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, Judge Barry Ford ordered Starkville attorney William Starks, who is representing Moore, to provide full documentation to Spruill's legal team if they want to call Hinds County Republican Party Executive Committee Chairman James L. "Pete" Perry as an expert witness on the election challenge. The matter is scheduled to go to trial before Ford on Feb. 5.


Attorneys Jim Mozingo and Lydia Quarles are representing Spruill. They filed a motion challenging Perry's inclusion as an expert witness and contended they hadn't been provided enough information about him.



Starks plans to call Perry as an expert witness during the trial to testify to irregularities on ballots in the contested election. At one point during Friday's hearing, Starks said there are issues on some ballots, such as absentee ballots not being signed across the flap or applications missing the proper clerk seal.


"Stuff like that are things that he personally examined and perceived on the ballot envelope and would testify that that's what he saw on there," Starks said. "When we bring the ballot box in, we can go through each one of them and say 'Here it is, you look at it, see if you agree with my perception that they didn't sign across the flap.'"


Moore is contesting his six-vote loss to Spruill in a June Democratic Party runoff on the grounds of numerous election irregularities, including issues with accepted and rejected ballots. Spruill has served as mayor since taking office in July.


Starks said the challenge is specifically focusing on 11 ballots -- nine affidavits and two absentees -- that were rejected that Moore believes should have been accepted.


"We would like for the court to declare a winner or for the court to order a new election if that's what the court deems necessary," Starks said.


Mozingo said Spruill's team had problems with Perry as an expert witness, and with the limited information on what he'd offer opinions to that Moore's side provided.


"We were being asked to guess about that and we don't have to guess about that," Mozingo said. "That's what the judge said. He's making them provide the information that we've asked for and that will go a long way toward clarifying the trial. We're happy to get down to the basic facts -- all we want to know is what we're going to be talking about when we get to trial."



Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.



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