(KNOXVILLE) Lawyers for several Knox County jailers being sued over the November 2014 beating of an inmate want his lawyer tossed off the case and gagged from speaking to the press.
The federal court action is being sought against Lance Baker, who represents Louis W. Flack, a former Knox County inmate who authorities say was beaten while jail personnel were trying to move him from a cell.
Flack, through Baker, is suing Knox County and the jail workers in U.S. District Court over the incident.
Baker declined comment Monday.
Lawyers for David C. Sparkes, Jesse Rudd, Christopher Fustos and Randall Kidd seek sanctions against Baker, accusing him of improperly speaking about the case to area media outlets including WBIR, 10News.
They contend lawyers associated with pending civil cases aren't supposed to make "extrajudicial" or out-of-court statements if such statements involve the evidence or character of people involved in the case.
The defense attorneys also say Baker isn't allowed to make comments that could interfere with the defense getting a fair trial and an unbiased jury.
According to the lawyers, Baker made available video of the moment Flack was removed from and beaten in his county cell. They say they hadn't even seen the video, which offers a closer look at what happened than footage released last year by Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones.
"In addition to making this video available to the media," the lawyers' court filing states, "Mr. Baker has appeared on news outlets WATE and WBIR to give in person interviews commenting on the evidence, the character of the parties and Mr. Baker's opinions as to the merits of the claims or defenses of a party ..."
Baker's comments were designed to put the defendants "in a negative light," the lawyers argue in the court filing.
They're asking a U.S. District Court judge to fine Baker, disqualify him as counsel, and to make him pick up the defense's expenses for raising the issue in court.
They also want a judge to bar Baker from speaking anymore to the press.
Flack is seeking up to $2.5 million in compensatory damages and up to $2.5 million in punitive damages.
Rudd resigned after the incident. Fustos was suspended without pay two days.
Sparkes, the supervisor on duty, was suspended without pay for five days.
Corrections officer Spencer Solomon and former corrections officer Nick Breeden also are defendants in the civil lawsuit. Breeden was fired after the beating.