JONESBORO — Former Morrow City Manager John Lampl was in court Tuesday fighting to get access to documents connected to the special purpose grand jury that investigated him.
Lampl was indicted last year on charges he lied about Olde Towne Morrow, a now-defunct commercial development near Southlake Mall. Prosecutors also alleged he conspired with others to avoid the contract bid process. He is out on $80,000 bond and is expected to go to trial in October.
Lampl's attorney, Brian Steel, argued before Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert Collier that he needs access to those documents to help mount his defense.
"I'm looking specifically at count eight, perjury," said Steel. "The grand jury charged him with taking an oath in a judicial proceeding, that Olde Towne Morrow had no debt. I'm trying to analyze how to defend that count, I want to understand how they got to that charge."
The specific documents Lampl is looking for are the order by the judge convening the special purpose grand jury and the transcript of his own testimony.
However, Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers said Clayton County Superior Court Chief Judge Deborah Benefield sealed those documents and they should remain sealed.
"Chief Judge Deborah Benefield made a factual finding in sealing that order," said Powers. "It could not be unsealed because there is an ongoing investigation. We do not believe he is entitled to those documents because it is privileged."
Powers asked instead that Collier review the documents in his chamber. Once the documents are released to the defendant, they become part of the public record and could jeopardize other investigations, said Powers.
Collier took the motion under advisement and said he'd make a decision as soon as possible.
Lampl has a long history with Morrow, having served on the council 20 years ago, working as city manager and then executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, before being elected to the city council in a March 2010 special election. Three months later, Lampl faced allegations of intimidation and was removed from council in May 2011.