Friday, March 18, 2011

BingoGate: Judge reopens wiretap hearing – what could go wrong?

image US Magistrate Judge set another hearing on the admissibility of the wiretap evidence in the bingo bill vote-buying case and reportedly gave the prosecution a tongue-lashing.

Capel—who is widely regarded as a fair and impartial Magistrate Judge—is well known for having a short fuse, especially when the Court’s orders are not being followed.

Such appeared to be the case today, when the defense team alleged that the prosecution had failed to turn over a batch of emails relating to procedures followed during the wiretap phase of the investigation. The prosecution admitted that it had failed to turn over everything, citing a “mistake” in locating everything covered in Capel’s order earlier this month.

At the close of the three day hearing two weeks ago, Capel instructed the government to turn over all of the emailed instructions to agents on how they would conduct the electronic surveillance. The government turned over some, but not all of them, prompting sealed motions to compel by the defense.

An exasperated Capel ordered the hearing to begin Tuesday, and ordered the government to have FBI agents on hand to answer additional questions.

Exit question: Another hearing, three weeks after the first, with no decision yet on evidence admissibility, and a walking grease fire in Brenda Morris still on the prosecution team. What could go wrong?

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