Trial For Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez To Be Delayed
JEFFREY B. COHEN
August 25, 2009
HARTFORD — - A state court judge delayed the trial of Mayor Eddie A. Perez on bribery and other charges by a month, saying that the extra time would allow for a longer jury selection process.
On Monday, Judge Julia Dewey held a pretrial conference in her chambers with attorneys to discuss the status of the case. When that hearing was completed, she held a hearing in open court to say that although jury selection will go on as planned starting Sept. 9, the trial won't start until Nov. 2.
"We all thought that, in June, the grand jury report would be final," Dewey said. Most of that report has been sealed, and the state Supreme Court is considering whether to release it to the public, a situation that Dewey said creates "some uncertainty" with regard to the report and the issues it might raise.
"But," Dewey said, "clearly the parties are prepared to go."
Dewey said she will also seek larger pools of prospective jurors to make selecting a jury easier. That, along with the lengthier jury selection process, would mean a better chance of finding jurors who know nothing about Perez's case, Dewey said.
"This schedule is dependent upon facts outside the court's control," Dewey said.
Perez was arrested in January 2009 and pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, fabricating evidence and conspiracy to fabricate evidence relating to allegedly discounted work done on his home by city contractor Carlos Costa. Costa was also arrested and has pleaded not guilty.
Those arrests were the product of an 18-month secret state investigation, called a grand jury, of Perez. The grand jury is complete, and the grand juror — Judge Dennis Eveleigh — submitted his final report in late June. Since then, the question has been whether to release it.
Last month, Eveleigh released some of his report — but kept what he called the "damning" parts sealed. The Courant appealed that ruling and, on July 29, the state Supreme Court heard the case. The court has not yet ruled. Although Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane promised more arrests last January when he arrested Perez, no arrests have been made based on the final report.
After the afternoon hearing, State Prosecutor Christopher Alexy said there was nothing unusual about the change in scheduling. He would not comment when asked whether the state plans more arrests.
Hubert Santos, Perez's attorney, did not return a call for comment.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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