By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In an attempt to prove prosecutorial misconduct during his indictment on 23 felony counts of public corruption, Speaker Mike Hubbard subpoenaed journalist John Archibald to testify in Lee County on October 26. Archibald filed a motion to quash the subpoena citing the Alabama Shield Statute, the Alabama Reporter’s Privilege, and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Archibald’s subpoena was later pulled when on Thursday he filed an affidavit which gave the defense nothing except a way out of an embarrassing situation.
Hubbard, and his criminal defense team, led by J. Mark White, have repeatedly shown a blatant disregard for State law, even challenging the constitutionality of the ethics laws he championed and voted to pass.
Hubbard had also demanded, “the production of documents sent to or received from an alleged source(s), drafts of articles and notes used in the editorial process, and text messages and emails relating to but not limited to two news articles” written by Archibald.
To subpoena a working journalist sends a chilling message, not only to every reporter in the State, but to every freedom loving citizen in the entire country.
Hubbard has shown a complete disrespect for State law, the judge’s orders, and made evident his willingness to sacrifice every principle on which our society is founded to save himself.
If Judge Walker had permitted Hubbard to drag Archibald to the witness stand, then any effort to report on government and public corruption would have been compromised, and a death-spiral of honest, intrepid reporting would have been set in motion.
In the motion to quash, Archibald argues, “The subpoena should be quashed because Alabama courts recognize a qualified privilege under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects a reporter from testifying about anything obtained while in a news gathering capacity,” the motion reads. “There exists ‘an important societal interest in protecting the free flow of information to the public,’ and ‘[a]ny unwarranted restraints upon the process of news gathering and reporting could jeopardize [this interest].’”
Judge Walker has ordered that the October 26 evidentiary hearing would be narrow in scope and evidence would be limited to prosecutorial misconduct as defined in the Bank of Nova Scotia, et al. v. United States, which states, “dismissal of the indictment is appropriate only ‘if it is established that the violation substantially influenced the grand jury’s decision to indict,’ or if there is ‘grave doubt’ that the decision to indict was free from the substantial influence of such violations….”
Hubbard’s legal team in seeking information about Archibald’s columns, which were written after Hubbard was indicted would have fallen outside the standard set under the Nova Scotia ruling.
White and Hubbard have repeatedly dismissed Judge Walker’s orders, acting as if they are above the law, or a law unto themselves.
According to several House members, Hubbard has been boasting that many of the 23 charges against him will be dismissed after the October 26 hearing. Hubbard and White have bragged about how they will “expose” the prosecution on the 26th.
Archibald’s motion to quash concludes, “…enforcement of subpoenas such as this one would render the reporter’s privilege effectively meaningless.”
If Walker would have compelled Archibald to testify, the corruption charges surrounding Hubbard would have been just be a small manifestation of a much deeper cancer that effects Alabama politics.