Mike Hubbard seeks to delay ethics trial until fall

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Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard on Friday asked a judge to delay his trial on ethics charges until the fall, after the abrupt resignation of his lead attorney from the case.

Hubbard’s attorneys wrote in the motion that the remaining defense lawyers need more time to prepare, and multiple issues and motions remain to be decided ahead of trial

“This case is not a routine criminal matter, as this Court is well aware,” defense lawyer Lance Bell wrote in the motion filed Friday morning.

Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges. He’s accused of using his position as Speaker and his former post as Republican Party chairman to benefit his clients and businesses by soliciting investments and clients, and lobbying the governor’s office

He has maintained he is innocent and that the transactions were legal.

The powerful Republican is now scheduled to go to trial on March 28, which would require Hubbard to miss parts of the upcoming Legislative Session that begins in February.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker had given Hubbard until Friday to request a delay in the case after Hubbard’s chief lawyer abruptly resigned from the case last week.

Prominent defense lawyer Mark White, who had represented Hubbard since the early days of the investigation, withdrew from the case citing an undisclosed conflict of interest.

Bell wrote that the case involves a large number of documents, and many pending issues have yet to be decided. Walker has not yet ruled on Hubbard’s motions to dismiss the case. Hubbard has argued the state ethics law — which he helped pass — is unconstitutionally broad and has accused prosecutors of misconduct. Bell indicated the defense has filed two additional motions under seal.

“Hubbard’s defense team is fully cognizant of its constitutional obligation to provide effective assistance of counsel and is diligently and conscientiously preparing this very complicated case for trial as soon as possible,” Bell wrote.

The motion filed Friday morning criticized a prosecutor for mistakenly sending White’s sealed withdrawal motion to a reporter. The attorney general’s office told the court administrator that was a mistake and the prosecutor didn’t realize it was under seal.

Walker last week issued a gag order to prohibit lawyers in the case from speaking with the media.

Prosecutors indicated last week that they would oppose a delay of the trial that has already been postponed once.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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