A federal judge says the government has not interfered with pre-trial evidence gathering in the corruption case against former Governor and first lady Bob and Maureen McDonnell.
The embattled former first family was in a Richmond courtroom Tuesday morning. This is one of many motions already filed in the case, and the judge expressed he is getting tired of it. Judge James Spencer says, enough with the posturing; it's time for both sides to prepare for trial.
Tuesday’s hearing centered largely on a key witness, former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, the man the McDonnells are accused of helping in exchange for thousands in gifts and loans.
But Williams has his own problems. As Star Scientific CEO, investors say he falsely promoted one of the company's products, and he's currently at the center of a civil lawsuit. Earlier this year, prosecutors in the McDonnell case successfully requested a delay in that civil suit until after McDonnell goes to trial.
Attorneys for the McDonnells say that request prevented them from learning new information about a key government witness. But Tuesday morning, Judge Spencer disagreed, saying defense attorneys were "dancing through fantasy land" hoping for information to appear during the civil case.
But the McDonnell team did score one victory Tuesday. The judge granted a defense request seeking information about past SEC and FDA investigations into Star Scientific's business practices. The defense says understanding the potential charges Williams and his company are facing will be important to understanding his testimony.
The SEC and FDA now have until April 1 to respond to that request.
Neither of the McDonnells spoke or took part in the proceedings Tuesday, but came before the judge nonetheless. They will be back in that very same courtroom for trial, expected to last six weeks, beginning July 28.
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