By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY —The Judge in Speaker Mike Hubbard’s felony criminal case has ruled that Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis was properly appointed, the letter appointing him was not backdated, and that Attorney General Luther Strange had the legal authority to appoint an Acting Attorney General. He also quashed the subpoena to depose Shelley Ballad, a former paralegal with the Attorney General’s office.
This signals that trial Judge Jacob Walker, III has begun the process of ruling on the over two-dozen defense motions pending before the court. This is also an indication Hubbard’s trial will begin on March 28, as Judge Walker has ordered.
Over a year ago, Hubbard filed a motion challenging Strange’s authority to appoint his successor, once he recused himself from the investigation of Hubbard. This was also raised in the Rep. Barry Moore perjury case, which Judge Walker ruled that Strange had the authority.
In the Moore case, this ruling was appealed to the State Supreme Court, where Moore asked the higher court for a stay, and to overturn the lower court’s ruling. The Supreme Court rejected Moore’s pleading, and his trial went forward.
Hubbard’s legal team also accused the State of backdating the appointment letter, and was allowed to depose General Strange on the matter. In his order Judge Walker stated General Strange denied backdating the letter under oath and that he had denied the accusation three more times when the defense asked additional questions about whether the letter was backdated.
To satisfy the defense motion, Judge Walker went so far as to have the Special Master —an expert in computer documents—to examine the letter and the metadata from the Attorney General’s Office case management software.
The Special Master concluded, “Hubbard has not presented any evidence or argument, sufficient to warrant the time and expense of further discovery from the State’s information systems on this issue at this time.”
Judge Walker ruled he found no evidence of any wrongdoing or backdating by the State on the Appointment Letter.
By ruling on these motions, Judge Walker has begun to clean-up the mess left behind by J. Mark White and his firm, who left the case reportedly after Hubbard failed to pay more than a million dollars in legal fees. It has been stated that Hubbard’s criminal lawyer, Lance Bell, is working for the publicity and future favors from the Speaker.
Bell will undoubtably appeal some of the rulings to the Supreme Court, but as in the Moore case, it is believed the High Court will expedite the matter in order for Hubbard to have his day in court as scheduled.