BY KEN LITTLE
A Sept. 16 trial date has been set in the case of state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, who is charged with a felony count of aggravated assault in connection with a March 18, 2012, altercation with his now-estranged wife, Crystal Goan Hawk.
Senior Judge Paul G. Summers, who was assigned the case earlier this year, set the September trial date. Summers also approved a prosecution motion amending the charge against Hawk to aggravated assault.
Joseph Baugh, the district attorney general pro tem prosecuting the case, said he had inadvertently made a "one-digit" mistake in the criminal code offense number he filed with the court that led to a reckless endangerment indictment last November.
The grand jury found a no true bill on a domestic assault charge against Hawk, who has maintained his innocence since the incident took place.
Summers, a former state attorney general, set a May 23 deadline for prosecution and defense lawyers to reach a plea agreement in the case.
Baugh said after the proceeding Thursday that he expects the case to go to trial.
"I would be shocked if it didn't," he said.
ALLEGATIONS IN CASE
Hawk was charged with domestic assault following an altercation with his wife at the couple's Tusculum home, according to reports by sheriff's deputies.
Goan, a Greeneville lawyer, told deputies that her husband struck her in the face with his hand, knocking her to the ground, a report said.
Hawk said on March 19 that during the incident, "My wife had a gun and told me she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby. At that time, I escaped to safety with my daughter."
Hawk's claim was not substantiated by sheriff's deputies.
The couple has been estranged since the incident. Both sides seek a divorce on the grounds of "inappropriate marital conduct," according to documents filed in Greene County Chancery Court.
Hawk, wearing a dark-colored business suit and tie, sat next to defense lawyers Thomas Dillard and Wade Davies on one side of the courtroom, while Goan and Baugh sat at a table on the other side.
Hawk and Goan did not make eye contact during the hearing.
At Thursday's hearing, Summers also set ground rules for an evidence-gathering inspection of Hawk's former home by Hawk and legal representatives. Goan still lives in the house.
Summers approved a 90-minute visit to the house on May 17, and specifiied that Goan's personal rights be respected.
Goan and Baugh will be present during the inspection of the house.
"We all understand the reasonable parameters," Summers said.
GOAN CIVIL CASE
Summers also ruled on a motion defining how much Goan can be cross-examined at trial regarding an earlier civil case heard in federal court here, involving Goan and former husband James Roy Klumb. Goan was the defendant in a lawsuit filed by Klumb.
The bench trial was held in December 2011 in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. A July 2012 ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter found that Goan violated both the federal Wiretap Act and the Tennessee Wiretap Act "by installing spyware on Klumb's computers without his consent to intercept his incoming email."
The court awarded Klumb $10,000 in statutory damages from Goan in addition to Klumb's attorney's fees and expenses.
In addition, the court awarded Klumb punitive damages of $10,000 from Goan because, the judge wrote, her violation of the wiretap acts "was part of a larger scheme to gain advantage of the plaintiff during their divorce."
Judge Carter wrote that Goan's conduct relative to the "larger scheme" was "extreme and outrageous and merits punitive damages."
Other statements by Carter in his ruling implied that Goan was not credible in the testimony she gave during the trial.
'LACK OF CREDIBILITY'
Davies said that he and Dillard sought to question Goan at trial about a "lack of credibility" raised by Carter in his ruling on the federal civil case, as a way to suggest to a Greene County jury that her allegations of assault by Hawk were not truthful.
Davies cited court decisions in other federal districts to back up his assertion that Goan could be questioned about Carter's characterizations about Goan in his ruling.
Last year, Goan claimed during a General Sessions Court preliminary hearing for Hawk that she never read Judge Carter's ruling.
"We would ask about the findings that (Carter) made," Davies said. "Did you install software illegally?"
Baugh said that a trial judge "should be extremely careful not to communicate any opinion," and questioning Goan about her credibility as stated by Judge Carter was not appropriate.
"You could not make a finding of facts for a jury," Baugh said to Summers. "Could you allow another judge in another case (to) make a finding of facts?"
Judge Summers ruled that cross-examination questions could be asked about "specific acts of conduct" by Goan, but not about her testimony at the civil trial and about whether she "was trustworthy or credible," or "any ultimate determination of credibility by another judge."
Judge Summers asked for a list of possible questions that Dillard and Davies might ask Goan on the stand relating to the federal civil trial.
Summers said he wants the jury in the aggravated assault case to have the "ultimate decision on her credibility."
2-3 DAY TRIAL
Summers set three days for the September trial, but said it would likely be over in two.
Hawk, who is serving his sixth term in the state House of Representatives, remains free on bond.
"We want to have a trial that is fair and speedy and no one thinks we're dragging our feet," Summers said.
Baugh expressed concern about being able to quickly select a jury in Greene County, where the case has been well publicized and many possible jurors know Hawk, Goan or both.
Summers, of Nashville, said 68,000 people live in Greene County "and I'll bet we can get 14 people in a jury box (in one day)."
"I'm confident we can get 14 people in that jury box that can do the right thing," he said.