Attorneys for Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie and Deputy Ramona Yeager appeared alone in federal court this morning, and with some discussion, attorneys for the pair and the United States government are looking toward an April trial.
Hastie pleaded not guilty to charges of public corruption in December, only a few weeks after being indicted on 16 counts of conspiracy, extortion, wire fraud and mail fraud.
Yeager was charged with nine similar counts of corruption in the same indictment — charges she likewise pleaded not guilty to.
Neal Hanley, one of three attorneys mounting Hastie’s defense, originally asked the trial be pushed off until May because of the “voluminous” amounts of emails, videos and audio recording the defense would have to go through. He also said the defense would require time to gather expert witnesses — though he didn’t get into any specifics of Hastie’s planned defense.
Hanley said the defense’s portion of the trial alone could take between three to five days, and he was concerned about having adequate time to prepare.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Bordenkircher, who is prosecuting Hastie and Yeager, requested the trial take place in March for the good the public, because Hastie still holds a position that deals with public money in the midst of multiple corruption charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Nelson presided over the preliminary hearing, and opted to split the difference and set a trial date for April. Both Hastie and Yeager will be tried together, and jury selection is slated to begin April 6 in Mobile. However, Hanley said its not yet known which judge will hear the actual case.
In the hearing, Hanley told the judge the defense would have to comb through “thousands of emails” and “hundreds of witnesses including several politicians and state representatives.” Buzz Jordan, another of Hastie’s attorneys, said it would cost more than $7,000 to print the transcripts of the emails alone.
Hanley, who claimed recorded audio tapes were “key to the government’s case,” also requested any recordings submitted as evidence be presented along with written a transcript, but Nelson ultimately denied that request.
When asked about Bordenkircher’s comments that Hastie was a “threat” to public’s interest, Hanley said, “(Bordenkircher) forgot to mention that Kim Hastie is innocent until proven guilty,” Hanley told reporters after the preliminary hearing.
Hanley and Yeager’s attorney Jason Darley maintained both of their clients innocence while speaking to reporters after the hearing.
“The amount of support that’s been shown to Kim throughout this process has has been incredible,” Hanley said. “I’m glad the judge was willing to give us a little more time. We just want to be prepared.”
*Updated Jan. 21 correct a misattributed quotes