Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BingoGate: Motion to dismiss causes FBI agent to leave courtroom (IBCR Exclusive)

image There was a bit of dramatic curiosity in yesterday’s jury selection proceedings for the BingoGate trial. Tuesday was the second day of attorneys querying prospective jurors regarding their views on gambling, politics and whether they could be impartial.

But in a rather odd development, defense lawyers objected to the presence of FBI Special Agent Keith Baker. Baker has been the lead investigator on this case almost since its inception during the 2010 session of the Alabama legislature. During that session, Milton McGregor, Ronald Gilley and a host of lobbyists were alleged to have bribed lawmakers to sway their vote on a bill favorable to their business interests—namely, a constitutional amendment and referendum on electronic bingo gambling.

One would think that the presence of an FBI agent like Baker at the jury selection process wouldn’t be that big of a deal, right? However, based on court documents filed by defense attorneys and an order entered by District Judge Myron Thompson, the team of defense attorneys has apparently filed yet another motion to dismiss some or all of the charges against their clients, and at least one interpretation of the court filings indicates that Baker’s actions during either the conduct of the investigation or the hearings related to the wiretaps may be a cause for Judge Thompson to act.

Briefs on the defense motion to dismiss—which was filed under seal and therefore unavailable to the public—are due on June 13.

Out of an “abundance of caution,” the defense asked Judge Thompson that Baker no longer be allowed to witness courtroom proceedings until the matters raised in the motion have been resolved. Thompson agreed, and Baker left the room.

More developments as they arise.

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