Judge Overseeing John Wiley Price Corruption Trial Blasts Prosecution for More ‘improper Conduct'

The federal judge presiding over the public corruption trial of John Wiley Price issued a blistering rebuke to the prosecution team Tuesday morning for repeated "improper conduct" over the handling of its evidence that jeopardizes the "fundamental fairness" of the proceedings.Another batch of government evidence that wasn't given to the defense was discovered Monday night. It was the fourth time that has happened.U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn denied co-defendant Dapheny Fain's request for a mistrial, but she deferred a ruling on Fain's motion to dismiss the charges. And Lynn said she shared the defense's doubts about whether the government can meet its duty to timely hand over all evidence to the defense in the trial.Lynn said she will grant any defense motions for additional time to review new evidence, and she gave defense attorneys broad leeway to introduce evidence without challenges from the prosecution. Lynn also said she would tell the jury about the prosecution's latest mistakes.The new evidence relates to surveillance photos of co-defendant Kathy Nealy as well as records related to her condo and her American Airlines suite.Lynn said when Price defense attorney Chris Knox asks government witnesses about documents he doesn't have, the prosecution appears to have "eureka moments." Then Assistant U.S. Attorney Walt Junker leaves the courtroom to track down the missing documents, she said. Lynn said that pattern has caused her to lose confidence in the accuracy of the government's production of evidence to the defense."I regard what's happening here as inappropriate and disappointing," Lynn said.It's also contrary, she said, to her "very good" experience with the U.S. attorney's office."This conduct falls way short of that," Lynn said.The judge asked U.S. Attorney John Parker to address her concerns but he was out of town so his first assistant, Chad Meacham, appeared before her. Meacham apologized for the mistakes."We take our discovery obligations very seriously," Meacham told Lynn.But he acknowledged that his office "fell short of that here."Meacham said the new evidence does not exonerate any of the defendants.But Tom Mills, who is Fain's attorney, asked Lynn to tell the jury that the "credibility and good faith" of the prosecutors and/or agents should be in question.Lynn said she would not go that far in her description to the jury of what happened."We have no reason to believe that there will not be more documents produced," Mills said.He added that there's also no way of knowing whether other government documents exist that will never be given to the defense."We believe there has been prosecutorial malfeasance and negligence," Mills said. "We have no evidence we're going to get what we should get."Nealy, a close Price associate and former lobbyist, is accused of giving the influential commissioner almost $1 million in bribes to help her clients win county contracts and other approvals. Fain, Price's top aide, is accused of helping him by lying to the FBI and of contributing to his tax fraud.   Continue reading...

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