By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been granted a continuance of his trial on 23 felony counts of public corruption.
Hubbard’s trial was set for December 8 of this year, but his attorneys argued for more time to prepare their case.
Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker III granted Hubbard’s Motion to Continue and has set a pretrial scheduling conference for January 7, 2015.
Hubbard stands accused by the State in a 23 count indictment for using his office for personal gain, receiving money and other “things of value” from lobbyists and others, as well as improper use of State property.
Since his arrest on felony charges of public corruption, Hubbard has set out on a public relations blitzkrieg. He is attempting to convince voters, colleagues and the potential jury pool, that he is innocent, and that these charges are simply a Machiavellian plot hatched by Republican Attorney General Luther Strange, executed by “rogue prosecutors.”
Hubbard, through his attorneys, has hired one of the State’s top PR firms to spin his innocence, with the goal of winning his case through the media. This is the same tactic used by former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, Gov. Don Siegelman and others.
It is believed that the witness list against Hubbard is long and deep with once valued allies all willing to testify to the counts against him. Even Gov. Robert Bentley testified to the State’s prosecutors as to some of the actions of which Hubbard stands accused.
The latest PR move is a whisper campaign that the Alabama Supreme Court is going to rule that the Special Lee County Grand Jury was improperly impaneled. The court refused to formally address the motion when raised in the trial of Rep. Barry Moore. Many believe it is doubtful that a court led by Chief Justice Roy Moore would overturn a ruling made by the trial judge who found the Grand Jury proper. But, the public spin is in overdrive while the private maneuvering is intense.
It has been widely speculated that Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, reached out to at least one member of Bentley’s staff to encourage the Governor to intercede with Strange on Hubbard’s behalf. It has even been rumored that a Federal Judge was contacted as well.
For now, fear and intimidation has allowed Hubbard to continue to wield a big stick on Goat Hill, with lobbyists, House members, and even U.S. Representative Mike Roger lining up to point the finger at anyone except the man accused of breaking the law.
Judge Walker is not known for granting many continuances so it is believed that Hubbard may stand trial as early as mid to late January.