- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - A defense lawyer told a judge Tuesday that he should dismiss perjury charges against Republican state Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise because there are multiple flaws in the state’s indictment.

Prosecutors told Circuit Judge Jacob Walker that the indictment is sound. After hearing the arguments the judge said he will rule later.

A special Lee County grand jury indicted Moore as part of an investigation of possible government corruption. The investigation is led by the state attorney general’s office.

“The indictment is bad. It’s not in proper form. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on,” defense attorney Bill Baxley said.

Baxley said the indictment was vague and improperly constructed. He also argued Attorney General Luther Strange lacked the authority to appoint an acting attorney general to oversee the case after stepping aside from the investigation. Moore’s legal team is trying to subpoena records related to Strange’s recusal.

“This man shouldn’t have to be put through the expense and embarrassment of going through a trial for an indictment that is fatally flawed,” Baxley said.

Prosecutors with the attorney general’s office said both the indictment and the appointment of retired St. Clair County District Attorney W. Van Davis to lead the case were on firm legal footing.

Deputy Attorney General Michael B. Duffy said some of Baxley’s arguments were “nonsense.”

“He’s going on a fishing expedition to try to find some evidence or non-evidence,” Duffy said of the defense subpoena.

Prosecutors have accused Moore of lying to a special grand jury when he testified that he never told his primary opponent, Josh Pipkin, that Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard had threatened to hold up economic development funds if Pipkin stayed in the race.

Pipkin had recorded a call with Moore and has said he has testified before the Lee County grand jury.

Tuesday’s court hearing was the first public proceeding in the closely watched case. Both Hubbard’s lawyer and a member of Pipkin’s campaign team watched the hearing.

A special grand jury convened by the attorney general’s office has been meeting off and on in Lee County since last fall.

Davis said last year that he was appointed by Strange as the acting attorney general in the case after Strange stepped aside. Strange has not disclosed his reasons.

Baxley said only the governor has the authority to appoint an acting attorney general. He said the case against Moore must be dismissed if it was done without proper authority.

Prosecutors cited a state statute that gives the attorney general the authority to appoint a former district attorney to handle a matter.

Baxley said that statute did not discuss the appointment of an acting attorney general.

“He is acting on behalf of the attorney general. That’s why we call him the acting attorney general,” Duffy said.

Duffy said he didn’t want to discuss Strange’s reasons in open court because it related to other matters before the special grand jury.

Duffy said he would file a letter under seal with the court that related to Strange’s recusal and the appointment of Davis to handle the case.

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