Nineteen months in the making, after a grand jury charged him with 23 felony ethics violations, Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard finally had his day in court on Tuesday. Whether he wanted it or not.
Prosecutor Matt Hart has arrived in courtroom. Hubbard and defense team have stepped out. Not sure when this will start. #alpolitics
— Mike Cason (@MikeCasonAL) May 24, 2016
Shortly after the Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division Chief, Matt Hart, gave opening statements for the prosecution, where he gave a detailed lesson on how the Alabama state government works, what are ethics laws and why they exist, followed by a charge-by-charge explanation of charges against Hubbard. His opening took approximately one hour and 40 minutes.
Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart opens the case against Speaker Mike Hubbard in court on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. Hart is facing Mike Hubbard, right, and attorney Lance Bell, left. [Photo Credit: Todd Van Emst]
Following Hart, former Attorney General Bill Baxley presented the opening statements for the Defense for roughly an hour and 15 minutes, where he called the charges against Hubbard “gobbledy-goop” and “mumbo jumbo.”
Hubbard attorney Bill Baxley attacked the Speaker’s indictment as “unintelligible,” “mumbo-jumbo” and “gobbledygook.” (2) #alpolitics
— Brian Lyman (@lyman_brian) May 24, 2016
Baxley claimed Hubbard went out of his way to make sure he followed ethics laws by actively seeking guidance from the Ethics Commission.
“He tried to follow every part. He tried to get them to tell him to make sure he knew where the line was,” Baxley told the courtroom.
After the opening remarks, jurors heard testimony from the first two witnesses in the case, John Ross and Tim Howe, both former state GOP officials who are now partners in the Montgomery-based lobbying firm of Swatek, Howe and Ross.
Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.