Last Friday U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Nelson denied multiple requests for discovery from License Commissioner Kim Hastie’s defense attorneys, which included information on government witnesses and phone records for individuals pivotal to the prosecution’s case.Originally, attorneys representing Hastie had asked the government to provide all documents received from License Commission employees or contractors without the issuance of subpoenas. Also requested were the names of the employees who provided those documents and the identity of a “whistleblower” mentioned in previous court documents.
Phone records were also unsuccessfully sought for Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s former campaign manager Chad Tucker as well as Victor Crawford, a contract employee who’s connected to several of the charges listed in the government’s original indictment.
Tucker, who was indirectly paid with public funds through Crawford’s company APL Software, was also involved in another of Hastie’s criminal charges related to emails sent in support of Stimpson just days before a highly contested mayoral election. Charges stemming from those actions were recently given the OK to remain a part of Hastie’s upcoming trial, after a judge denied an attempt to have them dismissed.
A more interesting portion of the defense’s recent request was “the names of any public officials who are involved in the initiation of this investigation.”
Since Hastie was indicted last November, she and her supporters have called her 17 pending charges erroneous and many have suggested they were politically motivated. It’s not known which or if any public officials are suspected of initiating the investigation into the License Commission, but regardless, Nelson said Hastie’s counsel failed to convince the court why they would be necessary in Hastie’s defense.
In addition to that, Nelson’s March 20 order suggests the disclosure of such information wouldn’t be appropriate under Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
“Rule 16 does not provide for disclosure of the identities of Government witnesses, nor does any other authority provide a criminal defendant with an unfettered right to the disclosure of such information,” Nelson said citing case law from USA vs. Johnson. “The individuals whose identities the Defendants seek could be deemed government informants, and the Defendants have made no attempt to show how any of the informant identities they seek are relevant and helpful to the defense, nor have they made an effort to address the “balancing test” for overcoming the privilege.”
Hastie’s trial is currently set for the Southern District’s May 2015 criminal term, however a pending motion to dismiss one of Hastie’s three defense attorneys over a conflict of interest could delay the trail’s start date. A judge has yet to rule on that pending motion.
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