- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - An October trial date has been tentatively set for Oct. 19 for Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who faces ethics charges accusing him of using his influential offices to reap financial rewards.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on Friday to the date during a scheduling conference before Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker.

Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart told Walker that the prosecution’s case against Hubbard will take about two weeks of testimony.

The attorneys and Walker discussed preparations for the high-profile trial involving one of the state’s most powerful politicians. The trial will take place in Lee County, where Hubbard resides.

The fall date will ensure that the trial does not overlap with the spring legislative session, in which Hubbard will preside as speaker of the House of Representatives. Walker said the multiple defense motions to dismiss the case will be heard in hearings in April.

A Lee County grand jury indicted Hubbard in October on 23 felony ethics charges. Some of the charges accuse Hubbard of using his party chairmanship to secure business for his media and printing companies in Auburn, and others of using his legislative position to benefit clients of the his company, the Auburn Network.

Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence.

Walker said his courtroom rules will prohibit reporters from posting or tweeting what witnesses say while they are still on the stand in court. Walker said he is concerned about upcoming witnesses, who are prohibited from being in the courtroom, hearing that information before they testify.

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