By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The criminal trial for Speaker Mike Hubbard will take place in the middle of the 2016 Legislative Session. Hubbard, and his defense team, vigorously argued against the timing, only to lose the battle. Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker III wanted to hear the case in February, but finally compromised on March.
This means Speaker Hubbard will be missing from the 2016 Session for at least two months.
Attorneys say, the defense will need a month to prep Hubbard and other witnesses, and Hubbard’s criminal attorney, J. Mark White said the trial will take at least four weeks. This means Hubbard would be absent from the Speaker’s chair for most of the session.
While there was some general unhappiness with Judge Walker giving the defense more time, most agree the trial is moving forward as best as can be expected, given its high stakes, and profile. Observers say, Judge Walker is handling this case with the “deliberate caution” generally reserved for a capital murder case.
Court observers, and well placed attorneys speaking on background believe, that Judge Walker wants to avoid any chance, should Hubbard be convicted, that the verdict could be overturned on appeal. The presence of this possibility hangs constantly over the court like the specter of Lady Justice herself.
There is little doubt that Hubbard’s defense team is setting the stage for an appeal, even as it works to undermine the State’s case before them.
Hubbard’s criminal attorney, White told reporters on Monday, that the day had been a great victory because Judge Walker was allowing an evidentiary hearing on prosecutorial misconduct.
Immediately after saying he would allow the hearing on October 19, Judge Walker quickly added that he couldn’t find a single case in which a court dismissed on prosecutorial misconduct. He also informed White that he would limit testimony to events that happened inside the Grand Jury, and would not hear testimony about the inner workings of the Attorney General’s Office. White has tried repeatedly to represent disgraced former Deputy Attorney General Henry “Sonny” Reagan, and fired Special Agent Howard “Gene” Sisson as credible witnesses to prosecutorial misconduct, on the part of Matt Hart, Chief of the AG’s Special Prosecutions Division.
Judge Walker has given every indication that he will let the blizzard of motions filed by Hubbard, to melt under the hot breath of his bloviating defense. This slow process toward dismissing motions has frustrated some, and has left some reporters at the mercy of the defense’s spin machine.
Hubbard, and his criminal defense team will continue to play fast and loose with the facts of the case. And, no doubt, when Rep. Ed Henry, Lynn Greer and BCA’s Billy Canary all take the stand in October, the defense will attempt to transform Judge Walker’s court room into a “merry-go-’round” spin room.
But, Judge Walker has shown, that he is up to the task of keeping Team Hubbard’s “sideshow” in check.
Next up: Hubbard motions to have the ethics laws he voted for, and championed declared unconstitutional. Highly unlikely that Chief Justice Roy Moore is going to grab that ring as it goes around.