The William Jefferson Chronicles

Former Rep. William Jefferson seeks another delay in corruption trial
by Jonathan Tilove, The Times-Picayune
Thursday January 08, 2009, 1:37 PM

WASHINGTON - Former Democratic U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's attorney filed a motion today with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., asking the judge in his corruption case to set a trial date that will give the Supreme Court time to decide whether to hear Jefferson's appeal.

Judge T.S. Ellis III, the trial judge in the case, is free to set a trial date at a Jan. 15 status hearing in Alexandria. If he were to accept the motion by Jefferson attorney Robert Trout, the trial would not likely begin until June at the earliest.

In his filing, Trout noted that defense attorneys have until March 12 to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case, but that they plan to file that petition by Feb. 13. The government would have until March 16 to file its reply, and Trout estimates that the Supreme Court could be expected to decide whether to take the case buy the end of April.

"If the Supreme Court decides at that time that it wishes to hear the case, we respectfully submit that it would be appropriate for this Court to postpone the trial; if the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, the trial can proceed,'' Trout writes in the motion.

Because of other pre-trial business that would have to be conducted once the Supreme Court has ruled on taking the case, Trout suggests that at the status conference, Ellis should set a trial date that falls ``at least one month after the date when the Supreme Court could reasonably be expected to rule.'' That would push the trial sometime into June.

The former New Orleans congressman faces a 16-count indictment accusing him of seeking bribes in exchange for his help in arranging business deals in Africa. He lost his re-election bid for a 10th term in December to Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao. Jefferson has said he is innocent of all charges.

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