By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In what could be best described as another sneaky move Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal lawyer J. Mark White has asked for a continuance of the March trial.
Surprisingly, contrary to procedure, White sent a confidential letter to Judge Jacob Walker III seeking a continuance, because suddenly White has been offered a speaking engagement.
White sending Judge Walker a confidential communication rather than a formal motions gives the impression that he wanted to hide this from the public. In judicial circles, the saying goes, “If you want to talk to me about going fishing, send me a letter. If you want something in a case, file a motion.”
White told Judge Walker he was recently elected as “Dean” of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and was schedule to give a speech at the groups annual meeting at the The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC April 2-6, 2016.
According to a motion to deny by the state, “This unjustified request for a continuance is only intended to create unnecessary delay.”
The case was initially set for trial on December 8, 2014, but was continued without objection at Hubbard’s request until October 19, 2015. On Sunday, August 2, 2015, Hubbard again moved to continue the trial. Over the State’s objection, this Court granted the motion and set the trial for March 28, 2016. The latest move is seen by the state as another attempt to delay justice because one attorney has a speaking opportunity.
Despite the fact that Hubbard is represented by five law firms and 11 lawyers, White once again wants to postpone the trial. Judge Walker has granted Hubbard considerable latitude in other motions but to delay the March trial would mean denying justice for another 6 to 12 months.
The timing of White’s speaking engagement is suspect at best and at worst an intentional ruse to trick Judge Walker into another delay.
Hubbard and his legal team have a pattern of denying any wrong doing, deflecting guilt on to others and delaying court proceeding trying the patience of Judge Walker, and the prosecution while thumbing their noses at the judicial system as a whole. Hubbard has be given opportunities rarely afforded any criminal defend.
The State argues, “Until this case is tried, a cloud will continue to hang over the Alabama House of Representatives. The citizens of Alabama should not have to wait any longer than is absolutely necessary to have that cloud lifted. A delay enabling one of Hubbard’s many attorneys to attend a meeting to give a speech is completely unnecessary.”
In its filing the State offers an alternative if Judge Walker is inclined to delay the case so that White can speak to an elite conference in Washington D.C., “…if this Court is inclined to accommodate defense counsel’s request, the State would propose the following compromise: conduct voir dire on March 28, 2016, then recess until April 6, 2016, at which time the parties will strike the jury and begin the trial. This compromise allows the parties to have certainty in scheduling the multiple witnesses expected to testify and permits Mr. White to attend his meeting. Otherwise, the State asks this Court to set a new trial date a month earlier, in February 2016.
The current trial set for March 28, 2016, is 528 days – more than 75 weeks – after indictment.
The International Academy of Trial Lawyers is an elite group of attorney with Hubbard lawyer’s Jim Pratt, Augusta Dowd and White being members.