Those representing Durham School Services and bus driver Johnthony Walker argued for a delay until after Walker's criminal case is decided. They're afraid his right to a fair trial would be in jeopardy if the civil case is heard first.
"As unpopular as this statement may be, Mr. Walker's constitutional rights are of paramount importance," Amanda Dunn, Walker's criminal attorney said.
The judge chose to put a hold on civil proceedings, but only for 3 months, which will allow a grand jury to hear the criminal case.
Attorneys for the victims will be allowed to move forward with gathering items for their case like Walker's personnel file, his driving history, and bus maintenance records.
"There's a wealth of information out there that would impact all of these cases, but we haven't seen any of it yet. Now we'll finally get an opportunity to see some of it," Hixson said.
Walker's attorney believes the ruling will give Walker a fair shot if his case goes to trial.
"For some individuals, there's been a rush to judgment. Certainly some of the plaintiffs' attorneys in the cases made statements in their briefs to the effect that we all know Mr. Walker is guilty, but the truth of the matter is he is innocent until proven guilty," Dunn said.
Attorneys in the civil case will head back to court in June.
Walker's other attorney says Walker will most likely be indicted and arraigned by the end of the month. @WRCB
By that point, they expect a grand jury to hear the criminal case against Johnthony Walker and decide whether or not to indict him.
Stick with Channel 3 for the latest updates on this developing story.
PREVIOUS STORY: Lawyers for a man accused of causing a Tennessee bus crash that killed six school students say they want civil litigation against their client put on hold to protect his constitutional rights during his criminal case.
Police have said Johnthony Walker was speeding in November while driving 37 elementary students home when the bus left a curvy road, hit a utility pole, overturned and hit a tree. He was charged with vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving in the Chattanooga crash.
Attorneys representing families who have filed lawsuits against Walker and his employer, Durham School Services, over the crash are opposed to putting the civil claims on hold.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/2lYjMOI) reports Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge J.B. Bennett will hear arguments Monday on the request.
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