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Opinion | Hubbard still free, it’s time for justice, not more delays

Alabama speaker Mike Hubbard stands in Judge Jacob Walkers courtroom before the start of Hubbards ethics trial on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 in Opelika, Alabama. (VIA TODD VAN EMST/POOL PHOTO)

The public is still waiting for justice as the Alabama Supreme Court diddles on its ruling in The State of Alabama v. Michael G. Hubbard.

Republican Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was indicted on felony ethics violations in October 2014. He was found guilty by a jury of his peers in June 2016. It is now July 2019, and his appeal is still pending a ruling by Alabama’s highest court.

In what had all the trappings of a show-trial, the state’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hubbard’s last appeal on June 4.

Chief Justice Tom Parker, Associate Justices Michael Bolin, Sarah Stewart, Alisa Kelli Wise, Tommy Bryan, William Sellers and Brady Mendheim, Jr. heard the arguments. Justices Greg Shaw and Jay Mitchell recused from the proceeding.

From the beginning, Hubbard’s case was fraught with political intrigue as wealthy donors, political operatives, radio talkshow host, media-types and lawmakers worked to upend indictments brought by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division.

Even now, many of those same forces seek to overturn Hubbard’s conviction.

In the last election cycle, some of Hubbard’s most ardent supporters gave heavily to the campaigns of the justices who are now charged with ruling on his appeal.

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Legitimate media, however, over the course of Hubbard’s trial turned from tacit skeptics to hardened critics of Hubbard’s dubious deeds while leading the Republican House supermajority. Most lawmakers who paid blind obedience to Hubbard while speaker have now abandoned him and pray privately for a speedy end to the matter.

Hubbard was sentenced to four years in prison on July 8, 2016. As of today, it has been 1,109 days since Lee Count District Judge Jacob Walker III handed down that sentence.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals showed its willingness to abdicate responsibility by taking over two years to rule on Hubbard’s appeal. It now seems as if the state’s high court is dragging its feet as well.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim, meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no remedy at all.

The injured party in the Hubbard case are the people of Alabama.

Parker, Bolin, Stewart, Wise, Bryan, Sellers and Mendheim must see that justice is carried out in the name of the people, and the people have had enough.

A consensus among those who have watched Hubbard’s case from the beginning — a decidedly pro-prosecution group — believe that at least two justices on the court are pushing to exonerate Hubbard on counts involving receiving a thing of value from a principal.

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The reason to strike those convictions is not that the jury decided the law improperly but because elite members of the Republican and business establishment want those laws overturned.

It is foolish to believe that the court is comprised of legal giants in the mold of the U.S. Supreme Court. The current court has a former tax attorney, a probate judge and others with no real judicial experience beyond getting elected.

So, it is unsurprising that daily we hear from those who ask, “Is the court going to let Hubbard off?”

If the court follows the black letter of the law, the answer is “no,” but it’s Alabama, and there is one law for some and another for men like Hubbard.

It’s only been a little over a month since the court heard oral arguments in Hubbard’s appeal, but for those who care about justice, it has been three years-plus since Hubbard was convicted on June 10, 2016.

Are the Supreme Justices waiting for a dark Friday to undo the will of the people, or will they act like jurists who put the law above politics?

It is time for justice, not more delays.

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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