Hartford Mayor's Two Criminal Cases Will Be Combined For Trial, Judge Rules
JEFFREY B. COHEN
November 05, 2009
A Superior Court judge on Wednesday combined the two criminal cases against Mayor Eddie A. Perez and scheduled his trial to start in May 2010.
Judge Julia Dewey said jury selection would begin the first week in April, and told Perez's attorney, Hubert Santos, that there would be no more delays.
"I've given you your time frame and there should be no other excuses," Dewey said.
The state sought to combine the cases into a single trial, which Santos opposed.
Prosecutor Christopher Alexy told Dewey Wednesday that a combined trial could last roughly six weeks following three to four weeks of jury selection.
Perez, the focus of an 18-month state investigation into allegations of corruption at city hall, was arrested twice this year, in January on bribery-related charges and in September on charges relating to attempted extortion. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
After Perez was arrested in January, Santos called for a quick trial. But Santos says now that the mayor's second arrest has complicated matters. Santos objected to combining the cases, contending that there was a large amount of evidence to review, that he has a full trial calendar through the end of the year, and that consolidating the two cases would mean a lengthy trial.
That would mean a jury of "retirees, state workers or employees of large corporations" that wouldn't allow Perez to "be judged in part by the minority community that he serves" — those who can't afford to spend weeks at a trial.
In court Wednesday, Dewey disagreed with Santos' assessment of the jury pool as well as with his claim that combining the two cases could make the trial last several months.
Alexy also said that despite Santos' demand for a speedy trial, Santos has, in various court filings and correspondence, asked for delays into both 2010 and 2012.
"One could conclude," Alexy said, that Santos' motive is "to delay the trial for as long as possible."
Dewey took issue with the fact that Santos had taken other cases as this case proceeded, causing the scheduling conflicts. Dewey told Santos to stay focused on Perez.
"Don't make yourself available for anything else," Dewey said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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