TRAFICANT APPEAL Squire says he'll likely bow out
The government says the two issues raised have no chance of success.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Once an appellate court decides if James A. Traficant Jr. should be released from prison pending appeal, his Columbus lawyer is off the case.
Percy Squire said his representation of the ex-congressman is limited to two narrow constitutional issues -- jury selection and double jeopardy.
Traficant contends that his jury should have been drawn from the 17th Congressional District and that his expulsion from the U.S. House of Representatives on July 24 was punishment enough.
Squire's motion for Traficant's release on bond and a notice of appeal of the April 11 jury verdict and denial of a new trial are filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. The Columbus lawyer has asked that his bond motion be expedited.
The government's response also has been filed, asking that Traficant not be given bond but remain in prison, where he's been since July 30. Prosecutors said that the 61-year-old Poland man is a flight risk and a danger to the community and that the two appellate issues raised have no chance of success.
The appellate court will give Squire an opportunity to respond to the government before deciding the merits of the bond appeal.
Squire said he has no agreement to serve as co-counsel with any other lawyer. "It is still a question, as far as I'm concerned, who will actually handle the appeal," he said.
Squire said he is not a criminal lawyer and is not accustomed to handling criminal appeals. "I'm more interested in civil rights and constitutional issues."
After resolution of the request for bail, he will likely not be involved in the case.
"The appeal would probably cover a much wider range of issues, and I don't think I'd be the best person to necessarily present all those to the court," Squire said.
Youngstown attorney Mark S. Colucci announced last month that he would serve as lead counsel for Traficant's appeal. As of Tuesday, he had not filed a notice of his intention with the appellate court.
Squire said as soon as the bond issue is resolved he will consult with Traficant to make sure the ex-congressman has adequate representation. Squire said he wants to ensure a smooth transition between his office and whoever handles Traficant's appeal.
Traficant is serving an eight-year sentence in a Pennsylvania federal prison on convictions of racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion. He intends to run for his old seat in Congress in November.