Friday, February 25, 2011

Judge Orders Bruce Weyhrauch's Trial Moved to Juneau


The court has granted former State Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch’s request to move his trial from Anchorage to Juneau. The trial of the ex-lawmaker is now scheduled to start on Monday morning, May 9, in Alaska’s capital city.

Weyhrauch has lived in Juneau for more than 20 years, and he represented a State House district in the Juneau suburbs for four years. Weyhrauch was elected as a Republican in 2002 and 2004, and he chose not to seek re-election in 2006.

Weyhrauch is charged with bribery, extortion, honest-services fraud, and conspiracy to commit the other crimes listed. The indictment alleges that Weyhrauch took actions as a legislator favorable to the defunct oil-services corporation VECO regarding oil-tax legislation on the understanding that VECO would in the future give him contract legal work. Weyhrauch’s case is the last still left hanging of the 12 brought by the federal government in the “POLAR PEN” probe into Alaska public corruption.

I must say I was surprised by the decision by U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick. The judge had already denied this motion back in 2007 when the case was first supposed to go to trial back in 2007. As a practical matter, it’s not so fun for the judge to travel more than 500 miles to Juneau for a week for a trial when he has the discretion to decide to leave the trial in his hometown. The defense did a good job, however, on the renewed motion to move the trial (a change of venue, in legal lingo). Continuing the recent retreat into passivity shown by the feds in POLAR PEN, the prosecution did not even respond to the motion.

I add my standard disclosure that I have known Bruce Weyhrauch for about 20 years and have spent more time with him than any of the POLAR PEN defendants. We have not spoken since before his indictment, however, and he has never discussed this case with me.

Next up: What does the defense’s 16-page change of venue motion tell us about the upcoming trial?

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