State prosecutors gaining ground in Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics case

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A judge presiding over the suit over alleged violations of state ethics laws by House Speaker Mike Hubbard shook things up with a pair of judicial orders on Wednesday.

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker III ruled Wednesday that after nearly two years of delays pursued by Hubbard’s defense counsel, all briefs to be considered in the case must be submitted by Jan. 12. The move shortens the timeline for Hubbard, whose trial is set to start in March, to maneuver to bolster his defense.

The judge also threw out subpoenas Hubbard’s lawyers sought for Assistant Attorney General William Lisenby as well as Sandy McLure, a special assistant and scheduler for Attorney General Luther Strange.

Hubbard recently filed for a motion to dismiss the case, alleging prosecutorial misconduct by Strange and state prosecutors, saying the prosecution is selectively targeting the Republican lawmaker for political reasons. That motion was jettisoned by the court.

Judge Walker’s ruling will likely help take the sting out of those charges as Hubbard mounts his defense.

“I am aware that the defendant Michael Hubbard contends that I maintained a notebook, journal or diary about Deputy Attorney General Hart’s alleged violations of professional responsibilities or ethics. I keep notes on many things. I have no notes that reflect violations of rules of professional responsibility or ethics on the part of Matt Hart,” Lisenby stated in an affidavit.

“If I had evidence that Deputy Attorney General Hart violated rules of professional responsibility or ethics, I would report the violation to a court or to the Alabama Bar. I have made no such report,” Lisenby said.

The judge apparently deemed the affidavit sufficient to quash the requested subpoena for Lisenby.

Likewise, an affidavit from McClure stating she had no significant involvement in the effort to investigate and prosecute Hubbard was received favorably by Walker, so she will not be forced to testify either.

The rulings comprise a blow to Hubbard, who professes his innocence on charges he illicitly profited from his chairmanship of the Alabama Republican Party among other ethics charges, though he has focused his defense thus far on impugning the motives of the prosecution.

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