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Judge moves start of trial to Tuesday



Published: Sat, February 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The judge gave no reason for postponing the congressman's trial by one day.

CLEVELAND -- A federal judge postponed the start of James A. Traficant Jr.'s trial on corruption and bribery charges by one day, but she denied a last-minute motion by the congressman to stay the proceeding.

U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells moved the trial start from Monday to Tuesday -- without giving a reason in her three-sentence order.

Meanwhile Traficant, in a motion filed late Friday, said he has filed notice with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that he will challenge the judge's Jan. 28 ruling that allows certain evidence in the trial.

Because of the appeal, the congressman requested that the trial be stayed.

Judge Wells denied the stay. She said her prior ruling cannot be reviewed by the appellate court unless there is a conviction and sentencing in the criminal case.

Change in plans: In a ruling filed two minutes after Wells' order denying the stay, she rescheduled the start of the trial.

Traficant's motion means he intends to appeal the Jan. 28 order in which the judge ruled that three of five documents that represent 1998 communications between Paul P. Marcone and Richard E. Detore can be used as trial evidence. Marcone was Traficant's chief-of-staff at the time. Detore was an official at USAerospace Group in Virginia.

Judge Wells also ruled to allow as evidence a letter Traficant sent to the Saudi Embassy, threatening the Saudi government with future hearings and legislation unless it resolved a dispute between Bucheit International and a Saudi Arabian prince over payment for construction of a shopping mall.

Detore and Bernard J. Bucheit are co-defendants in Traficant's case. Both will stand trial separately.

Traficant had requested that the judge order the documents be suppressed under the speech or debate clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause grants immunity from legal reprisal from comments members make on the House floor, documents inserted in the Congressional Record and legislative acts.

Judge Wells has reserved ruling on two remaining documents.




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