By Bill Britt
MONTGOMERY — After erroneous stories were published by The Associated Press and Opelika-Auburn News, Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker III issued an order in the Speaker Mike Hubbard case stating the motion to challenge the constitutionally of the ethics laws would be unsealed.
Responding to reports that Hubbard’s motion to challenge the constitutionally of the ethics laws he is accused of violating would remain sealed, Judge Walker said, “the State’s motion [to unseal] is granted…The vast majority of it is going to be unsealed.” He further states, “the Court instructed the parties to re-file their respective motions in such a manner as they did not reference witnesses or testimony that was presented to the Lee County Grand Jury. It is still the Court’s intent to release as much of the Defendant’s motion setting forth his constitutional challenges as possible.”
Reporters Kim Chandler (Associated Press) and Sara Falligant (Opelika-Auburn News) both reported in error that Hubbard’s constitutional challenges would remain sealed. This is another example of news outlets buying into and even aiding in Hubbard’s media deception.
Falligant, quoting Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White, wrote “[Walker] is determined to protect the integrity of the process, and we support it,” adding that the order is an attempt to maintain grand jury secrecy.
He also alleged the prosecution has compromised the integrity of the grand jury in the past, stating there have been “severe violations of grand jury secrecy by the Attorney General.”
The AP’s Chandler reported “Indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s challenge to Alabama’s ethics law will remain out of public view.”
An attorney who is following the case stated off the record, “There was a time when you could trust the AP to get its facts straight, but Hubbard has fooled the press so many times it is a disgrace.”
Following a report by this publication, on Monday Judge Walker issued an order stating that further motions which contained Grand Jury information should be filed under seal. He also stated that motions to unseal further motions would be heard.
Hubbard’s legal team immediately begun to spin the idea that their challenge to the ethics law would remain behind the veil of the Grand Jury Secrecy Act. However, Judge Walker has now made it clear that this was all a ruse perpetrated by Hubbard and his criminal defense team to deceive the public.
Hubbard, who remains Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, is charged with 23 felony counts of breaking the very state ethics laws he voted for and championed as part of the Republican supermajority’s “Handshake with Alabama.”
Hubbard’s latest attempt to avoid trial is to have the Republican’s signature reform declared unconstitutional. Once again, Hubbard proves to us that he will go to any length to deny, deflect and delay the charges against him.
Editor’s note: As we have said before we don’t regularly print this type of news, but when the other local papers either ignore it or print erroneous reports and then don’t bother to correct them, we’ll carry it.