By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Late Friday evening, Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal attorney, Lance Bell, of the Pell City firm of Trussell, Funderburg, Rea & Bell, P.C., filed a motion giving further reasons on why they want to depose prosecutor Matt Hart.
In his argument, Bell wants trial Judge Jacob Walker, III to believe that Hart has given this reporter Grand Jury information.
Bell argues, that because alreporter.com published a statement from Hart 13 minutes before al.com’s Mike Cason, it somehow proves a nefarious transaction between the Alabama Political Reporter and the prosecution. He also wants Judge Walker to believe that Hart leaked Grand Jury information, because he inadvertently sent the motion in which Hubbard’s attorney, J. Mark White, and his firm, asked to withdraw from the case.
According to published reports, Hart immediately informed the court and the defense of his error, taking full responsibility for the act. Judge Walker unsealed all but Exhibit B of the motion, mere minutes after Hart sent it to me. In his order, Judge Walker states, “Exhibit B contains a list of motions, some which reference Grand Jury matters. Because of such, Exhibit B shall be filed under seal until the court has an opportunity to review its content.”
Bell makes no mention of the fact, that he or one of Hubbard’s attorneys leaked Hart’s confidential email to the media, or the hundreds of times Hubbard has manipulated press coverage to his advantage. Nor does Bell seem to recall when Hubbard’s attorney, Augusta Dowd, released complete statements from the Grand Jury, in an unsecured, redaction format. The prosecution accepted Dowd’s explanation, and her apology was accepted by the court.
But, this is not about leaks, or media coverage. This is a strategy to have Hart removed from the case. In the motion, Bell once again states, “Additionally, Hubbard respectfully reminds the Court of the alternate relief requested in his Motion to Dismiss for the State’s Recent Violation of Grand Jury Secrecy, or in the alternative, for the Appointment of Independent Counsel.”
This call for an Independent Counsel is nothing new. Recently, Bell and Dowd asked Gov. Robert Bentley if he would be willing to appoint an independent counsel, should Hart be removed from the case. This was before Hart’s email mistake.
Bell, following in the footsteps of Hubbard’s former lawyer White, wants Judge Walker to unseal the testimony of Bennett L. Gershman. In the motion Bell states, “Hart’s misleading and inappropriate cross-examination of Professor Gershman during the October 28, 2015 evidentiary hearing also supports the granting of Hubbard’s Motion for Deposition of Prosecutor Miles Matthew Hart.”
On October 28, 2015, Gershman gave testimony in a closed courtroom, regarding prosecutorial misconduct at Hubbard’s evidentiary hearing. Hubbard’s criminal attorneys want his testimony unsealed, not because it would shed light on the case, but because it would make good copy in the media, and further their attempts to poison the jury pool in Lee County.
Gershman is an “expert witness” for hire. He has written two books on prosecutorial misconduct, is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, a staunch defender of former Gov. Don Siegelman, and even performs a one-man-show with himself as Clarence Darrow. But, most importantly, he will testify in court about the horrors of prosecutorial misconduct…for a fee.
As Bell rightly notes, this publication has tenaciously reported on Hubbard since 2012. To report on public figures, and the possibility of public corruption, is the right and duty of a free press.
In Hubbard’s motion, the defense tries to draw a line from our anonymous sources to Hart.
The Society of Professional Journalists states.”Few ethical issues in journalism are more entangled with the law than the use of anonymous sources. Keep your promise not to identify a source of information and it’s possible to find yourself facing a grand jury, a judge and a jail cell. On the other hand, break your promise of confidentiality to that source and it’s just possible you might find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.”
A well, respected criminal defense lawyer, after reading Hubbard’s latest motion responded with two words, “Kinda dumb.”