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TRAFICANT CASE Federal prosecutors file response



Published: Mon, February 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The congressman's trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

CLEVELAND -- Federal prosecutors have filed a countermotion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the court U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. hopes will stop his racketeering trial from going forward Tuesday.

Bernard A. Smith, an assistant U.S. attorney, filed the response on behalf of the prosecution team opposing the 17th District congressman's request to halt his trial. The filing was not immediately available.

Traficant's trial is set to begin Tuesday with roughly 100 jurors filling out a 40-plus page questionnaire. He faces a 10-count indictment that includes charges of bribery, tax evasion and obstruction of justice.

Traficant filed his appeal Friday afternoon with the appellate court and a simultaneous request for a stay with U.S. District Court Lesley Brooks Wells, who is presiding over his case. Judge Wells denied the stay but delayed the trial, set for today, by one day.

At issue are documents the Poland Democrat believes are protected by the speech or debate clause in the Constitution. The clause allow members of Congress immunity from legislative acts, statements made on the House floor or inserted in the Congressional Record.

Traficant contends Judge Wells rewrote the Constitution by allowing the documents as evidence at his trial.

The appellate court in Cincinnati reviews appeals from the federal district courts in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

meade@vindy.com




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