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TRAFICANT CASE Judge rules against defense motions



Published: Tue, January 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Traficant will be allowed to ask government witnesses about promises made to obtain their testimony.

CLEVELAND -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. cannot use selective prosecution or question the lawfulness of the government's investigation of him as a defense at trial, a federal judge said.

In an order filed today, U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells ruled on motions Traficant and the prosecution team filed as they gear up for the trial, which begins Monday.

Denied: Judge Wells denied the 17th District congressman's request for a hearing on prosecutorial misconduct. She noted that he missed the Jan. 9 deadline for pretrial motions, when he could have raised the selective or vindictive prosecution defense and argued to have her dismiss his indictment.

"Trials are about guilt or innocence of the defendant, not what the government has or has not done," Judge Wells said in her order. "Claims of selective or vindictive prosecution are not trial defenses. ..."

She said Traficant will be permitted to question government witnesses about threats, promises and inducements made by the government to obtain their testimony.

She granted a government motion to exclude evidence accusing FBI agents or prosecutors of misconduct to the extent that if he does so, he must comply with the rules of criminal procedure. "To the extent that it seeks blanket, pretrial exclusions of evidence, it is denied," the judge wrote.

Withheld: The judge withheld ruling on the government's request to prohibit Traficant from mentioning the penalties he faces, his health and prosecution experience by the assistant U.S. attorneys on his case.

The judge denied the motions as premature. She will rule, as needed, during the trial.

meade@vindy.com




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