Siegelman's Court Date May Come Soon

Former Governor Don Siegelman's bribery, conspiracy, and racketeering trial may be just five months away. That's because a federal judge is trying to follow the requirements of the speedy trial act.

The speedy trial act says in essence that the defendant's trial must come at least 70 days after the defendant's first appearance in court, and for Siegelman and his three co-defendants that first appearance happened 14 days ago. That means Siegelman and the others have 56 more days to go, but there are problems with the trial starting then. Attorneys say they have conflicts with other cases that are going on at that time, and if the judge decides to grant separate trials for the other defendants that will also have an affect on the trial date.

However, the defendants say they will not waive their right to a speedy trial. Former Governor Don Siegelman says "The people's right to vote in this election is critical. They have a constitutional right to vote and I have a constitutional right to a speedy trial and they are inextricably linked. This election shouldn't be decided in a courtroom. It should be decided at the ballot box."

Former Health South C.E.O. Richard Scrushy also wants a speedy trial. "I want to get in there. I want to face these accusers. I want to show them there's no evidence against me and I want this thing cleared up so my good name will be cleared and I can go about my family's business. I am tired of this and I'm tired of the government harassing me."

And, Siegelman's former Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick wants to get it over with too. "I want my right to a speedy trial. I want this in a courtroom quickly and I want it resolved quickly. This has gone on for six years. There's no reason why we can't get into a courtroom quickly."

The only attorney in court who said his client is willing to waive his right to a speedy trial is that of Siegelman's former transportation director Mack Roberts.

Also in court Wednesday, at least two of the three co-defendants say they will ask for separate trials. Attorneys for Richard Scrushy and Mack Roberts have four weeks to file that request. The attorney for Paul Hamrick says he will decide after seeing the evidence.