- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama appellate court on Wednesday rejected indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s appeal of pretrial decisions in his ethics case.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals issued a one-page order denying the request to review some of the decisions handed down by Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker. The court did not explain the decision in the brief order.

Hubbard is scheduled to go on trial March 28 on ethics charges. Walker has scheduled a March 17 hearing to discuss if the trial can go forward on that date or if it should be delayed.

The bulk of the defense filing to the appellate court - which was initially placed under seal - was redacted to comply with grand jury secrecy laws so it is unknown what issues Hubbard’s defense was raising. Defense lawyers, in a March 3 motion to stay court proceedings until the appellate court ruled, said the motion to the appellate court dealt with constitutional and jurisdictional issues

Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as speaker, and previous post as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, to steer business to his companies, lobby the governor’s office and to solicit investments and clients for his businesses. Hubbard has maintained his innocence and argued that the transactions were legal and separate from his public duties.

One issue raised by the defense was the timing of the indictment, according to a non-redacted portion of the court filing.

Defense lawyer Bill Baxley said the special grand jury’s term had expired two months before the indictment was issued on Oct. 17, 2014.

“Because the Grand Jury returned an indictment against Hubbard apparently two months after the grand jury’s term expired, the grand jury acted without authority or jurisdiction and that indictment is null and void,” Baxley wrote.

Walker authorized the grand jury on July 29, 2013, and jurors were picked on Aug. 19, 2013. Baxley argued the grand jury’s term should have expired on Aug 19, 2014.

Hubbard as speaker presides over the House of Representatives The March 28 trial date, if it stands, will overlap with the ongoing legislative session.

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