By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone is credited with saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Once again, Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is charged with committing 23 felony acts of public corruption, has asked for a continuance, and it appears Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker, III, may, once again, grant Hubbard’s wishes.
The State’s case against Hubbard is not as complex as his attorneys J. Mark White, Lance Bell and now, Bill Baxley, have been claiming. The crimes Hubbard is accused of committing are based on simple, easy-to-understand laws, laws that Hubbard himself championed and voted to pass.
Over the last two years, Hubbard and his criminal attorneys have tried to deceive the public, confuse the court, and delay, deflect, and deny at every turn.
Over the last year and a half, Hubbard has tried, with some success, to turn Judge Walker’s court into a legal marketplace for every absurd argument imaginable to delay his trial, deflect his guilt, and deny any wrong doing. The court has more than not given in to Hubbard’s every request, showing him unprecedented deference.
Judge Jacob Walker, III, is a highly respected jurist, but his willingness to yield to Hubbard’s endless delay tactics have gone beyond projecting the integrity of the process, and veered sharply into a justice denied.
No doubt, celebrity cases are difficult because they draw more of the public’s attention. Hubbard has made himself a glamorous figure in Lee County, with his white Mercedes, sharkskin suits, and slicked-back hair. He has a radio show, he knows Bo, and he even has a building and a street named after him, not to mention the fact, that he has brought millions in State and Federal dollars to the district.
In the O.J. Simpson trial, Judge Lance Ito showed the world how not to conduct a celebrity trial. Ito will forever be remembered for allowing sleazy defense lawyers to turn his court into a mockery of justice, with silly stunts and trickery.
Simpson’s trial shaped how the American people viewed judges, prosecutors, and especially defense attorneys.
Don McNay, financial expert and best selling author wrote, “The American public came away with an overwhelming conclusion: Trial lawyers were sleazy tricksters. Furthermore, the research revealed something more shocking. Not only did they think that lawyers played sleazy tricks, they concluded that those who did not ‘play the game’ and pull stunts, were lousy lawyers.”
Hubbard’s lawyer, Bill Baxley, is famous for his courtroom theatrics, as well. Just last week, Judge Walker allowed Baxley to claim, like “The Absent-Minded Professor,” that he didn’t know the hearing was set to address motions before the court. Baxley said, he thought he was there to “set a trial date.”
The reason for the hearing was to resolve the State’s motion on Rule 404(b), seven motions in limine, and the admissibility of evidence. But instead, Judge Walker bought Baxley’s “Ah, shucks, your honor, I didn’t know,” allowing Baxley’s antics to control the tone, tenor, and schedule of the hearing.
The trial date had been set, and Baxley knew it.
At the same hearing, Judge Walker seemed to entertain the idea of permitting Hubbard’s lawyers to argue prosecutorial misconduct in front of the jury, inviting jury nullification. This, despite the fact he had already ruled there was no prosecutorial misconduct, vindictive, or selective prosecutions. How can Baxley be allowed to taint the jury with such a false notion?
Then, there is Hubbard’s reelection as Speaker of the House. How is a jury to understand Hubbard retained his leadership position because of cronyism and fear? Can they possibly understand the cowardly and corrupt nature of so many elected officials?
Opening this overflowing Pandora’s box will leave a jury confused, in the same manner Hubbard has used his PR skills to deceive the public with his fake, conservative agenda.
Hubbard has turned his felony indictment into a reality show, using his well-organized and well-financed political machine, along with dubious legal trickery to avoid facing a jury of his peers. Of course, Hubbard thinks he is peerless, and even above the law.
Judge Walker is dangerously close to being just another “player” in Hubbard’s scheme.
Last week, Baxley complained that the States 404b motion was drawing negative press reports, and because of Judge Walker’s gag order, he could not address the slanderous allegations being made about Hubbard in the media.
Baxley loves fiction.
Judge Walker told Baxley he did not know of anyway a 404b motion could be placed under seal. However, a few hours later, Judge Walker found a way to give Baxley exactly what he wanted, and ordered all 404b motions be placed under seal.
In Alabama, placing court filings under seal requires that the potential damage must outweight the public’s right to know.
This case is The People v. Michael G. Hubbard.
We the people have rights, too.
Many months ago, this publication challenged the court on this issue. Our attorney in the matter, Baron Coleman, addressed this with Judge Walker’s court, pointing out the public’s right to know was of the utmost importance. Judge Walker has unsealed many motions as is proper.
In the Hubbard case, justice delayed means it is unfair for the injured party—in this case, the people of Alabama— to have to sustain the injury, with little hope for resolution. Hubbard still controls the State House of Representatives, and he has political power beyond the average citizen’s imagination. Because of his position, he can cause injury to the people of the State. Therefore, a fair and speedy trial is necessary.
Politics has all but permanently ruined the criminal justice system in our State of Alabama.
Gladstone also said, “Nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right.”
Hubbard is accused of crimes. His guilt or innocence must be proven in a court of law. Judge Walker is widely respected, and deservedly so; but he must bring Hubbard to trial.
He cannot allow Hubbard to be too big to try.