Gov. Bentley’s lawyers propose new impeachment hearing schedule, seek details on charges
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The lawyer representing Gov. Robert Bentley in the state impeachment investigation suggested Tuesday a different schedule for the impeachment investigation and hearings, instead of the one the Alabama House Judiciary Committee has said will begin April 10.
Bentley’s attorney Ross Garber said today the committee’s Special Counsel Jack Sharman should provide written notice to the committee on Friday whether he has found “substantial, credible and admissible” evidence that Gov. Bentley has committed one or more offenses impeachable under the Alabama Constitution, according to a letter to the committee provided by the governor’s office.
Bentley’s attorneys have complained the committee’s proposed schedule fails to provide fairness or due process to the governor. They filed an emergency motion last week asking the Judiciary Committee to meet by Wednesday to consider the governor’s due process arguments.
A committee spokesman said Tuesday morning the committee had no such plans to meet.
Under the committee’s proposed schedule, Sharman is set to publicly release a report of his findings Friday. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee is set to meet to hear a presentation of the report.
And, on Tuesday, the committee expects Bentley to respond to the report.
This afternoon, the governor’s lawyers suggested a detailed alternative schedule.
Garber argues that if Sharman has not found evidence of an impeachable offense, he should include a summary of his findings in his notice to the committee.
If he has found such evidence of impeachable offenses, Garber says Sharman should describe each offense. On the same day, Sharman should provide to the governor’s office and counsel his exhibits list, witness list, any evidence that could exonerate Bentley and a list of statements made by the witnesses on the list.
In Garber’s proposal, released Tuesday afternoon, the schedule would allow them to receive Sharman’s gathered evidence and then on April 13, both sides would address the Judiciary Committee and file briefs concerning standard of impeachable conduct and the level of proof required – beyond a reasonable, doubt, probable cause or preponderance of evidence – and rules on procedure.
Then, Garber says, on April 20 the committee should convene to hear arguments and evidence. At the end of that proceeding, Bentley’s attorney says, the committee should vote on whether to recommend impeachment.
If it does recommend impeachment, Garber argues, Sharman should write a summary report of the findings along with testimony and exhibits. The governor should be allowed to file an opposition report and a record of the proceedings should be given to the Clerk of the House.
Under the committee’s current schedule, the full House would vote on impeachment, assuming the committee recommends it, on May 20.