By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker III has granted Speaker Mike Hubbard a continuance in his criminal trial.
Walker ruled on Tuesday that Hubbard’s new court date would be scheduled for sometime in late March. Hubbard’s criminal defense team had requested the trial be postponed until summer, however, the State argued against such an extended continence, asking for a February date. Walker was inclined toward a February trial, but settled on March.
A rotund Hubbard, who was drinking a Diet Coke in the courtroom, was warmly greeted by Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and other Lee County hangers-on.
The hearing meandered as Walker gave the defense time to make serval arguments. Once again, team Hubbard argued that Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis was improperly appointed, and therefore the case should be dismissed. Walker listened to the argument, but ended by saying he had already ruled on the same motion in the Rep. Barry Moore perjury case. Walker gave every indication that he would not overturn his earlier ruling.
Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White once again argued that Hart and his team were guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. Walker said that he would allow a hearing on the matter, but the witness would be limited to what happened inside the grand jury proceedings.
White asked that he be allowed to question current and past employees to make his case on prosecutorial misconduct. Walker said their testimony was irrelevant to what happened in the grand jury. The evidentiary hearing is set for October 19, the original date Hubbard was to stand trial. Walker added that he could not find a case where a criminal trial was dismissed because of allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, but wanted to give the defense an opportunity to make its case, even though he seemed reluctant to believe in a positive outcome for the defense.
White indicated that he planned to call some 17 witnesses, among them, Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle), Rep Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) and Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Billy Canary. Each man is excepted to give testimony about their impressions of the grand jury questioning. White commented that Henry said he had “Never been so mistreated in his life.” One court observer with general knowledge of grand jury questioning wondered aloud, “I never knew Henry was such a delicate flower.”
Walker indicated that he would dismiss the defense’s motion for a more definite statement of facts, he would rule that Davis was properly appointed, and that Davis’ private law practice did not violate any rules pertaining to his appointment as Acting Attorney General.
He also gave reason to believe that further delays would not be welcomed.