Coon asks court to force journalists to let him question them

Ann Knef Apr. 23, 2007, 4:00am

Brent Coon has filed a motion for civil contempt against Southeast Texas Record editor Marilyn Tennissen and reporter David Yates for not appearing at a deposition last week.

Coon, a Beaumont plaintiff's attorney, accuses the journalists of "tampering" with a jury in an asbestos case he had proceeding in court earlier in the month. He subpoenaed Tennissen and Yates for deposition in his office April 19.

A hearing is set Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. before Jefferson County District Judge Donald Floyd on all pending motions, including the
newspaper's request to quash the depositions.

The newspaper's attorney said the appropriate documents were filed with the court and the editor and reporter were not required to appear for deposition.

"Mr. Coon is aware that my clients filed the necessary motions with the court on time," said Gregory S. Coleman of Yetter & Warden. "This is another attempt to harass us and undermine our First Amendment privilege."

Coleman said the newspaper is in compliance with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 199.4, which provides that if a potential witness objects to the time and place of an oral deposition within three days the deposition is automatically stayed.

The legal newspaper, which covers civil litigation in Jefferson and Orange counties, published its first issue April 2.

Without notifying counsel for the Record, Coon complained to Floyd on April 13 that Record staff members were distributing newspapers to a jury panel on April 2. A jury was never picked in Coon's case, Douglass & Jones v. AC&S, Inc., because the parties came to a tentative settlement.

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