Hubbard judge denies $1.1 million restitution request, new trial still possible

Mike Hubbard, former Alabama Speaker of the House, waives before a post trial hearing at the Lee County Justice Center in Opelika, Ala., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Hubbard was found guilty 12 counts of felony ethics charges on June 10, 2016. Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser/Pool

Mike Hubbard, former Alabama Speaker of the House, waives before a post trial hearing at the Lee County Justice Center in Opelika, Ala., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Hubbard was found guilty 12 counts of felony ethics charges on June 10, 2016. Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser/Pool

OPELIKA, Ala. — Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was in court this morning asking a  judge to overturn his June conviction on state ethics charges or grant him a new trial.

The court didn’t rule on the new trial request, but denied Hubbard’s request to have the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigate alleged juror misconduct during his trial.

The court also denied a request by the prosecution to make Hubbard pay $1.1 million in restitution.

Hubbard was convicted on 12 of 23 state ethics charge on June 11 and later sentenced to four years in prison.

The charges focused on allegations Hubbard used his office for personal gain, either working on behalf of clients seeking state government benefits, and soliciting and receiving money for his private business while in office.

In requesting a new trial, Hubbard’s attorneys have argued expert testimony by Jim Sumner, former executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission was improper. The defense says Alabama law doesn’t allow an “expert witness” to testify to the “purpose” or “intent” of state laws.

Here’s the defense request for a new trial:  Hubbard motion for new trial

Hubbard was prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General’s office, led by Assistant Attorney General Matt Hart.

In response to Hubbard’s arguments about Sumner, the prosecution argued the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has found, trial courts can admit expert testimony on state ethics laws and apply that law to specific “fact situations.”

This is the prosecution’s reply arguing Hubbard was properly convicted: State motion to deny new trial

The defense argues the evidence was insufficient to convict Hubbard. The jury deliberated about seven hours before reaching its verdict.

The defense also says a new trial is appropriate because it has uncovered juror misconduct after a trial juror approached them after the trial and described instances where other jurors seem to have decided Hubbard was guilty well before deliberations started.

Here’s the motion alleging juror misconduct: Hubbard jury misconduct claims

The prosecution said Alabama law doesn’t allow juror testimony about internal deliberations, and jurors are not allowed to testify to about “internal influences” on the jury.

“Such internal influences include whether jurors engaged in premature deliberations or made up their minds before hearing all the testimony,” the prosecution argued.

It said jurors can testify about “extrinsic” or outside influences on a juror.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker did not indicate when he would rule on Hubbard’s motion for acquittal or a new trial. While Walker denied Hubbard’s motion for a sheriff’s department investigation into juror misconduct, it also contained in the new trial motion.

Updated to correctly identify prosecution’s juror misconduct argument.