By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY – According to indicted Rep. Barry Moore’s attorney, the Alabama Supreme Court has issued instructions saying it will decide the legal legitimacy of the Lee County Grand Jury currently investigating public corruption in the GOP legislative supermajority, along with other “constitutional issues” surrounding the prosecution.
Bill Baxley, head of Rep. Barry Moore’s defense and former Democratic Lt. Governor, filed a motion in late June asking Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker to postpone proceedings against Moore regarding his upcoming trial on felony perjury charges until the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals considers technical legal challenges to the prosecution.
At the end of last week, though, Moore’s defense filed a revision to the motion, notifying the Lee County Court that instead of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court has decided to hear the issues, including the legal legitimacy of the Lee County Grand Jury which indicted Rep. Moore.
According to the revision to Moore’s motion, the Supreme Court has agreed to “decide fundamental constitutional issues affecting the jurisdiction of the ‘special grand jury’… and the extraordinary recusal by the Attorney General of Alabama.”
In mid-2013, a special grand jury was empanelled in Lee County, where Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is a resident.
Attorney General Luther Strange recused himself from the proceedings without comment, a privilege he is afforded under state law, but that garnered wide criticism from some in this instance, as reflected by the language of Baxley’s motion.
On April 24th, Representative Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, surrendered to law enforcement in Lee County and was charged with four felonies: two perjury counts and two counts of misleading investigators.
The charges against Moore stem from an interview that investigators had with the Representative in which he denied claims that he threatened his primary opponent, Joshua Pipkin, with the loss of a hundred jobs in the district if he did not drop out of the race. In that questioning, Moore also denied that Speaker Hubbard told him to relay such threats. These statements – lies, prosecutors claim – led to Moore’s indictment, which was issued by the Lee County Grand Jury.
Moore’s claims of innocence are easily debunked, as the entire phone conversation he had with Pipkin was recorded, and has been released by the Alabama Political Reporter. In the recording, Moore clearly states that Hubbard wanted him to relay the threat to Pipkin, even saying that the Speaker would “rain holy hell” on him if necessary.
Moore’s trial has been set for mid-September.