Judge Rejects Motions In Perez Case; Jury Selection On Track
April 06, 2010
A Superior Court judge rejected a last round of motions Tuesday from Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez's defense, setting the stage for jury selection in the mayor's bribery and extortion trial to begin Monday.
Defense attorney Hubert Santos sought to have the extortion case against the mayor postponed until after the conclusion of the related trial of former state Rep. Abraham Giles, who was arrested along with Perez last September and charged with attempted extortion of a city businessman.
Santos argued that Giles, a longtime city politician, could be called as a defense witness in Perez's trial, and could invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify.
"We have a situation where Mayor Perez is asked to defend himself, but a material witness will not be available to him," Santos said.
As part of that motion, Santos suggested combining Giles' case with Perez's. But prosecutor Christopher Alexy argued that such a move could also cause Giles to invoke his rights not to incriminate himself and prevent either trial from going forward.
"Adding the Giles case would be nonsensical," Alexy said.
Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey rejected the motion, saying it would cause significant delay. She reminded Santos that she intended to start jury selection Monday.
Santos also filed a motion to change the location of the trial, but asked that it be not be granted until after a jury had been chosen and before it was sworn in. Santos said the trial might need to be moved out of Hartford because news coverage of the charges against Perez could taint the jury pool.
He also said the length of the trial might limit jurors to "retirees, state workers or employees of large corporations," which might discourage many minorities from being able to serve.
"The problem you have here is the chance of getting minority representation is greatly diminished," Santos said.
Alexy said the prosecution believes the motion was premature.
"What he wants to do," he said, "is see how he likes [the jury] and change his mind later."
Dewey rejected that motion, too, saying, "You want me to go through the entire process and then void it."
Santos withdrew a motion to excuse Perez from attending all the jury selection proceedings, which are expected to take four weeks. Six jurors and two alternates will be chosen.
Dewey said she expected the trial to begin around May 11 and last through the week of June 22, and cautioned all parties not to schedule anything that would interfere with it.
Perez was charged in January 2009 with bribery, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence in connection with renovation work done at his home by a city contractor.
He was charged in September 2009 with first-degree attempt to commit larceny by extortion and first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny by extortion in connection with an alleged attempt to extort money from a private developer for the benefit of Giles in exchange for help on his 2007 re-election campaign.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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