SEARCY, Ark. (AP) — A judge ruled Monday that a jury will hear a legal battle over a $1 million lottery ticket that one Arkansas woman says she threw away and another says she plucked out of the trash.
Judge Craig Hannah's decision to grant Sharon Jones' request for a jury trial means the legal dispute over the lottery ticket will likely last even longer. Hannah pushed back a court date that had been scheduled for next month and said a pretrial hearing is slated for Nov. 27, jury selection is slated for Nov. 30 and the trial is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 7.
The new court dates come after Jones said she grabbed the ticket out a trash can at a convenience store last year and claimed the prize money. She and her husband told The Associated Press earlier this year that they had given tens of thousands of dollars to their children and bought a new pickup truck before a different judge ruled in May that the money didn't belong to Jones.
That judge, Thomas Hughes, said the money belonged to Sharon Duncan, who said she bought the ticket and threw it away after she said an electronic scanner told her it wasn't a winner.
Hughes later ordered a new trial and stepped down from the case, saying his "impartiality might reasonably be questioned" given what he called attacks against his integrity made by an attorney for Jones.
During Monday's hearing, one of Jones' lawyers, James Simpson, questioned Duncan's claim about the machine, saying the scanner didn't break.
"Either she's lying or she's incredibly mistaken," Simpson said.
The state's Lottery Commission has defended the machine and says its equipment functions properly.
Hannah, the judge who's currently overseeing the lawsuit over the lottery ticket, also denied Jones' request to dismiss the case altogether.
Simpson and an attorney for Duncan declined to comment after Monday's hearing because Hannah issued an order barring them from talking to reporters about the case.
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