Judge's ruling in Ooltewah rape civil cases puzzles some Hamilton County school board members

The exterior of Ooltewah High School photographed on Sunday, January 31, 2016. (Staff file photo by Maura Friedman)

A federal judge took aim Wednesday at Hamilton County Board of Education attorneys, saying they "wasted the court's time" by refusing to disclose evidence in a pair of civil cases filed by Ooltewah High School rape victims.

The ruling has some board members mystified about what's happening with the litigation.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Christopher Steger said he didn't need to privately review the five sealed emails board attorneys gave him because that evidence clearly fell under a ruling he made last month.

Board lawyers must furnish those five emails today to their opponents: Plaintiffs' attorneys who say lawyer Scott Bennett worked to shield the Hamilton County Schools system from liability by "floating" defense theories to outside investigator Courtney Bullard before she finished what was supposed to be an independent report on the district and Ooltewah's compliance with sexual harassment policies after the 2015 rape.