The William Jefferson Chronicles

High court won't delay trial of ex-Rep. Jefferson
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court refused Monday to delay the upcoming trial of former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson on bribery and other charges.

The former Democratic congressman has argued that prosecutors trampled on his constitutional privileges as a lawmaker. But the high court refused to hear Jefferson's appeal to throw out the indictment against him.

Jefferson was indicted in 2007 on multiple counts, including soliciting bribes and racketeering. Investigators raided Jefferson's home and found $90,000 in cash stuffed in a freezer.

A federal judge has set a June 2 trial date in Alexandria, Va.

Jefferson represented parts of New Orleans in Congress, but lost his re-election last year to Republican Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., rejected Jefferson's claims that a federal grand jury received evidence that violated his constitutional right to legislative immunity.

Jefferson's attorneys argued that three staffers should not have been allowed to tell the grand jury about Jefferson's relationships with African leaders and his knowledge about West African nations because those activities were part of his legislative duties.

While the trial is scheduled to go forward in June, several issues remain unresolved, including the extent to which prosecutors can use documents obtained in a 2006 raid of Jefferson's congressional office.

An appeals court in Washington ruled that the way in which the raid was conducted did not fully protect Jefferson's privileges as a congressman. As a result, his lawyers say that all the documents obtained from that raid should be barred at trial.

Prosecutors want to use some of those documents, but U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has not yet ruled on whether he will allow that.

The Supreme Court case is Jefferson v. United States, 08-1059.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Back to article index