MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The House Judiciary Committee’s Special Counsel Jack Sharman has released a tentative schedule for impeachment proceedings concerning Governor Robert Bentley.
Sharman’s timeline begins with a written report of his investigation to be released on April 7th. Sharman was hired by the judiciary committee to put together a report on the governor’s behavior in office to see if there are grounds for impeachment. The committee would then vote to pass impeachment along to the full House of Representatives.
However, Sharman’s office says, “The proposed timeline was provided as a courtesy to interested parties and is subject to change due to a number of variables that could affect the schedule, including potential litigation filed by the Office of the Governor, Gov. Bentley personally, or both.”
The proposed schedule looks like this. The tentative schedule would put the impeachment matter before the full house on May 9th.
The governor’s lawyers are already fighting back against the schedule. In a letter signed by attorneys Ross Garber and David Byrne, who represent the governor, they rebuke even the premise that Sharman can set such a schedule.
Their response begins:
“We received your letter of March 23, 2017 in which you purport to speak for the House Judiciary Committee in setting a process and procedure for the Committee’s performance of its duties pursuant to House Rule 79.1, notably its adjudication of whether Governor Bentley should be impeached. Your letter is inconsistent with the Committee’s directives to you, with the directives of the House pursuant to Rule 79.1, and with the mandates of the Alabama and United States Supreme Courts.”
The letter argues that special counsel cannot set a schedule, that the special counsel’s firm interviewing witnesses instead of the committee violates the governor’s due process, and that the timeline as set gives the governor inadequate time to prepare a defense for the committee.
Bentley’s attorney for the impeachment matter specifically, Ross Garber, put out the following statement on the timeline:
“Apparently the outside lawyer for the Judiciary Committee has decided that the only way to accomplish the first ever impeachment of an Alabama Governor is to violate the law. The Alabama Supreme Court and the Rules of the House of Representatives require that the Governor be given due process. Common sense dictates that an election not be overthrown without fair procedures. I have confidence that responsible members of the Judiciary Committee will not allow their proceedings to be hijacked and turned into a kangaroo court.”