By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Following the rejection of his pre-trial appeal by the Alabama State Supreme Court, the legal team working for State Representative Barry Moore (R) from Enterprise are telling the court that they need more time to prepare a defense for the Republican lawmaker, who has been indicted by the Lee County Grand Jury on charges that he knowingly made false statements to both state investigators and the Lee County Grand Jury.
Moore’s legal defense team which includes former Alabama Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley (D) are arguing that the trial judge must consider a number of pre-trial issues that they plan to introduce before the trial can commence and there will not be enough time for the judge to rule on these motions for the criminal trial to begin on September 15.
Baxley and Joe Dillard has argued that the case against Rep. Moore be dismissed because they argued that acting attorney general Van Davis and Matt Hart, head of the special prosecutions division of the attorney general’s office, were not properly appointed by Attorney General Luther Strange (R).
Strange had recused himself from this matter because of his relationship with Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn, among others who were likely to be investigated by the Lee County investigation. Rep. Mike Hubbard was also Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party when Luther Strange was running for Attorney General and as Chairman Rep. Hubbard raised money for AG Strange. There have been reports that some of that money came from Indian gaming interests.
Van Davis is a retired Republican St. Clair County District Attorney. Matt Hart is a former federal prosecutor, who has been involved in a number of political corruption trials in Alabama.
In a ruling that surprised no one in the legal community, with whom the Alabama Political Reporter spoke, the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday rejected Rep. Moore’s appeal without comment, meaning his trial on perjury should begin on September 15.
In addition to more time to get themselves prepared, the defense has charged that prosecutors have withheld information they need to prepare their defense.
Rep. Barry Moore was first elected in the 2010 Republican tsunami that wiped out over 130 years of Democratic control of the Alabama legislature. Moore is a close confidante and ally of the Speaker. Moore did not want to face a primary challenge from Joshua Pipkin.
Prosecutors charge that an angry Rep. Moore in a telephone conversation threatened Pipkin that Speaker Hubbard would punish him and the district by killing an economic incentives program for Enterprise if Pipkin dared run and defeat Moore. Despite these threats, Pipkin ran anyway and was easily defeated in the 2014 Republican Primary by Moore, even though Moore was already under indictment.
Rep. Moore allegedly told investigators and the Lee County Jury that he never threatened anyone and denied there was ever a telephone conversation with Pipkin. Allegedly this story does not match other evidence presented to the grand jury, which reportedly includes recording of the phone conversation that was secretly recorded by Pipkin.
There is speculation Moore could be offered some sort of a deal if he will plead guilty and provide evidence against other parties, likely including the Speaker.
Former state Rep. Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery has already pleaded guilty to charges including attempting to use his office for personal gain. Wren admits inserted wording into a bill to give one corporation a pharmacy benefits manager contract worth $billions in State and federal Medicaid dollars in exchange for a lucrative personal consulting contract. Rep. Wren still claims he did not know that this was illegal.
Where Wren received no jail time, some sources in the legal community maintain that prosecutors will not be so lenient with Moore and he is unlikely to get a deal at this point that does not involve some jail time. Representatives Moore and Hubbard both maintain that this is all just a political prosecution
Moore’s trial is scheduled for September 15 in the Lee Count Circuit Court. There is no word yet on how Judge Jacob Walker (R) will rule on Moore’s request for a continuation.