The federal courts have set out another schedule for the long-delayed trial of former State Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (R.-Juneau), with the new trial date set for May 9, 2011.
The re-setting occurred after a hearing this morning, which was covered by Rich Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News. You can read his report at http://www.adn.com/2010/11/03/1534689/judge-sets-start-date-in-weyhrauch.html on the Internet.
U.S. District Judge John Sedwick set out the reasons for why a case already almost three and a half years old will be set for trial more than six months in the future. In an order issued today, the judge observed that “This case is part of a series of prosecutions which, as it has turned out, involved a variety of failures by the prosecutors to comply with their discovery obligations.” The government has a new set of lawyers, and they need more time to learn the case. The defense attorneys have indicated that they will file a whole bunch of pre-trial motions that might fall into one of a dozen categories, some of which will focus on government misconduct that the defense will argue should result in the case being thrown out.
Mauer’s article says that the defense announced today that it will try to paint a full portrait of that government misconduct by getting testimony from Mary Beth Kepner, who once served as co-lead agent for the FBI on the seven-year-old federal probe into Alaska public corruption. That testimony will apparently have to be compelled, as Weyhrauch’s defense team said back in July that a lawyer for Kepner had indicated that she would exercise her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination if called to testify.
The prosecution’s case against Weyhrauch has more problems than Kepner. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer on the honest-services fraud statute and the general decline in perceptions of Weyhrauch's alleged briber Bill Allen are among the other barriers to obtaining a conviction of the ex-lawmaker.
As I have repeatedly disclosed, I have known Bruce Weyhrauch since we both worked as staff for the Alaska Legislature in the early 1980s. We socialized a number of times when I lived in Juneau in the 1980s and early 1990s, but he has never discussed this case with me.