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Siler civil suit delayed

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By Susan Sharp

While it has been nearly five years since Lester and Jenny Siler filed their multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit, it is as if time has stood still for the case.

Just as the litigation was set to begin in federal court, the trial date was postponed.

The $38 million suit was scheduled to be heard Tuesday. However, on March 5, United State District Judge R. Allan Edgar issued an order that has postponed the proceedings.

The most recent ruling is just one in a string of delays the case has faced on the state and federal level.

A delay was granted this time based on the request of the Silers.

At the moment, Campbell County attorney Kristi Anderson is the only legal representation the Silers have in federal court. However, they prefer to have Herb Moncier act as their lead counsel, federal court records said.

Currently, Moncier is suspended from practicing law in the Eastern District of the federal court system. This suspension is slated for appeal today and the Silers had asked for a delay in the federal case to see what that hearing would bring.

If Moncier’s suspension stands, the Silers would like the opportunity to weigh their options, according to court records. This could involve a number of scenarios ranging from finding a new lead attorney to voluntarily dismissing the federal claims opting to proceed exclusively in state court.

While Edgar granted the Silers’ request, he did caution it would be the last time the trial was postponed based on Moncier’s situation, the order said.

Along with halting the trial date, Edgar dismissed a number of claims the Silers had made against Campbell County, the local sheriff’s department and the five deputies who plead guilty to violating Lester Siler’s civil rights.

The federal case will now proceed solely on the Silers’ allegation their civil rights were violated, the order said. The claims related to Tennessee state law and the state constitution were dismissed from the federal suit.

These include allegations the couple was intentionally harmed on an emotional level and were subjected to false imprisonment. Edgar ruled those accusations could be argued in Campbell County Circuit Court, where a parallel state lawsuit exists. The case could be “streamlined and litigated much more efficiently” if the alleged violations of the Tennessee constitution are heard by a state court and the civil rights claim heard by a federal court.

Darren Mitchell, who was representing Shayne Green, was also allowed to withdraw from the case.

Green was instructed to notify the court within 45 days how he planned to proceed.

A scheduling conference has been set for April 6 in the matter. The possibility of a settlement or a new trial date will be discussed, according to federal court records.