The U.S. Magistrate in Montgomery told the prosecutors in the bingo corruption case, he decides what evidence is irrelevant, not the prosecutors. And he threatened prosecutors with sanctions if they didn’t start following the rules of the court. Further, he demanded they give defense attorneys the evidence they’ve kept hidden by 5 p.m.
Threatening to sanction prosecutors is a highly unusual step for a judge.
Judge Wallace Capel slapped his hand on his bench in frustration. “This has gone past the point of a mistake!” He also accused the prosecutors of abusing the judicial system saying, “This is holding us up here by having hearings that are unnecessary.”
Judge Capel rescheduled Tuesday’s hearing for 9am Thursday, with the threat the prosecutors had better be ready to follow the rules or they will face his wrath.
Capel had prosecutors back to court Tuesday to answer allegations that surfaced in court last week. They were accused again of withholding FBI documents concerning wiretaps of defendants in the case. The documents were supposedly found in an FBI “archive.”
In court Tuesday, prosecutors told the judge they had even more evidence they had not turned over.
The judge is trying to rule if the wiretaps should be allowed as evidence in the case. The defendants are accused of trying to by and sell votes in the Alabama legislature. Defense lawyers have consistently complained the prosecutors were not turning over evidence.
Some evidence was turned over to defense attorneys by Capel’s 5pm deadline.
Defense attorneys had also asked for FBI logs concerning the wiretaps. Prosecutors initially said the logs did not exist. Then, witnesses testified in court there were such logs. Prosecutors had not produced them to defense attorneys.
In December, prosecutors were also accused of not giving defense lawyers evidence. Prosecutors had handed over bits and pieces of FBI notes, saying the redacted notes were parts of other cases. They eventually did provide un-redacted notes before a deadline of January 31.
In February, Judge Myron Thompson wrote a lengthy ruling chastising prosecutors. He wrote, “the court hopes, and expects, that government counsel will not only be better prepared, but fully prepared, for all future proceedings.”
During that hearing, prosecutor Brenda Morris was taken to task by Thompson when he told her she was wasting his time.
Morris was a lead prosecutor in the case against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, a case overturned after the court discovered prosecutors were hiding evidence from defense lawyers.
Victoryland owner Milton McGregor’s attorney Joe Espy says if the shenanigans continue, “we will move for dismissal on the basis of the failure of the government to comply with the law and the rules.”
Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley’s attorney Doug Jones says he believes these have been deliberate efforts by prosecutors to play, “hide the ball.” He told reporters, “This has been going on from the very beginning.”
Jones says he may also petition the court for a dismissal if prosecutors don’t follow the rules.