Prosecutors won’t get a second chance to convict ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring until June 2010, a federal judge said in court today.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia said she plans to delay Ring’s new trial until a host of major issues are resolved, including a pending Supreme Court review of the law Ring is charged under. She set a tentative trial date of June 21.
Huvelle declared a mistrial in the Ring case last week after jurors became deadlocked on all eight counts against the former Jack Abramoff associate. Ring was charged with committing honest services fraud for allegedly using expensive freebies like meals and sports tickets to corrupt public officials.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear three separate cases examining aspects of the honest services statute, and Huvelle expressed concern about allowing a second trial to go forward before the justices rule. The judge said she also wanted to let the statute of limitations expire on potential tax charges against several defense witnesses who evoked their Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the last trial. She said she wanted to make sure Ring could call any “fair witnesses.”
The judge also spent time today questioning Justice Department lawyer Nathaniel Edmunds about the theory behind part of the prosecution’s case. Late in the trial, the government added “material misrepresentation” as an element of the five honest services wire fraud counts they had filed against Ring. When Huvelle said today she wasn’t sure she understood what that meant, the discussion eventually turned to the realities of legal billing.
Edmunds told the judge that actions Ring took such as obscuring aspects of his billing records could constitute wire fraud. (Ring was a lobbyist with Abramoff at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds and later Greenberg Traurig). Huvelle, a former Williams & Connolly partner, seemed skeptical.
“To say they should tell their clients who they ate lunch with is a leap of faith for those of us who have been in private practice,” Huvelle said.
“They didn’t want those records to come out,” Edwards said.
“No lawyer does,” Huvelle said.