By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
AUBURN — Former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal appeals trial may soon move forward after Lee County Circuit Clerk Mary Roberson filed a long-awaited court record last week.
Roberson filed the court record, which includes all motions, orders and trial transcripts, on March 29 after several months of delays. The record totaled in at more than 7,800 pages, according to court documents.
Hubbard first filed his notice of appeal in October, but the process has been on hold pending the completion of the court record. The Circuit Clerk had previously noted that the filing would be “voluminous.”
Attorneys for the State and Hubbard’s defense can now begin preparing written briefs for the beginning of the former House Speaker’s appeal trial.
The court record was first due to the lawyers and the Court of Criminal Appeals back in November, but Roberson has filed several motions with Court for time extensions — each time the appeal was delayed 28 days.
The case involved multiple felony charges and consisted of well over 550 filings, Roberson said in her motions.
“While this number of filings alone are rare in a criminal case and would warrant an extension of time, many of these filings are Under Seal, which will make preparation of the Clerk’s Record even more complex,” she wrote. “The Clerk’s Record will be voluminous in its transcript and exhibits.”
In addition to the case’s complex filings, Roberson also said the Circuit Clerk’s Office in Lee County is currently understaffed and has been for years. Only one Court Specialist is assigned to handle all appeals in Lee County, she said.
Hubbard first filed his notice of appeal on Nov. 5. The former House Speaker’s lead defense attorney Bill Baxley said at the time that juror and prosecutorial misconduct would be at the forefront of Hubbard’s arguments in the appeal.
Hubbard was automatically removed from office in June 2016 after being found guilty of 12 felony ethics violations — violations of the same ethics law he himself helped push through the Legislature in December 2010 during his first special legislative session as Speaker.
The former House Speaker will remain out on bond until the conclusion of his appeal. Hubbard was sentenced to four years in a State penitentiary and another eight years of supervised probation.
As the case moves on to appeal, Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker has also dismissed Special Master Allison Skinner, a court official who was appointed in 2015 to ensure that the legal teams in the Lee County trial were complying with court orders and electronic filing requirements.
Walker said her services were no longer needed because the case was moving on to appeal.