The federal prosecutors pressing the case against Ruffin Poole, a former longtime aide to ex-Gov. Mike Easley, want a trial by mid-May on the 51 corruption charges leveled against the former governor's right-hand man.
In a filing, they say they want to "move the case to conclusion with dispatch." The prosecutors, Dennis Duffy and John Bruce, are predicting a two- or three-week trial, according to a court filing.
The prosecutors and Poole's lawyer met on Feb. 4 but could not agree on a timeframe for the trial.
Poole's lawyer, in a court filing, is arguing for a later date, saying the case is complex, has Constitutional questions and conflicts with his schedule on some other upcoming trials. Poole's lawyer, Joe Zeszotarski, is proposing a trial to begin in August.
A federal magistrate judge had set out a framework for the case last week, including setting a tentative trial date much earlier than both sides sought — in March.
But that framework was squashed on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle, who had presided over Poole's first appearance in court and said at the time he would consider the scheduling issues. Boyle issued an order to all magistrate judges Monday saying that he would preside over the Poole case.
Boyle has yet to act on any scheduling issues.
Poole's lawyer said in his filing that the case against Poole appears to rely "heavily on email evidence" and "voluminous financial documents" relating to money laundering, extortion and bribery charges against Poole.
He said that numerous federal agents have been involved and months of grand jury testimony obtained, and that going to trial in May on an "expedited" schedule would be unconstitutional.
He also said Poole intends to challenge the 12 honest services mail fraud charges, which arise from Poole not reporting gifts and other disclosures on state ethics forms.
The federal honest services statute is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, and Poole argues that the situation should be resolved by June. Waiting on the Supreme Court to act would likely "streamline" the trial, he argues.
The Supreme Court seems likely to substantially change that law. Catch up on that issue here (preview of the arguments) and here (after the arguments were in).
Poole's lawyer also says he has three other matters now scheduled for trial or appellate arguments in late March, mid-May and late September.
— J. Andrew Curliss