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TRAFICANT CASE U.S. files response against requests



Published: Fri, May 3, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The government says the congressman has raised no new issues.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. can't have it both ways: Either he represents himself or has lawyers, the government says.

In a response filed today in U.S. District Court, federal prosecutors said it has no objection to Columbus attorneys Percy Squire and Lloyd Pierre-Louis appearing as counsel for the remainder of the congressman's legal proceedings. Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, has asked for a new trial and announced his intention to represent himself in appealing his racketeering conviction.

However, Matthew B. Kall, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court papers that the law clearly states that a defendant cannot have a "hybrid" situation. Traficant has known this since it was explained at the congressman's arraignment May 11, 2001, Kall said.

Traficant, who is not a lawyer, represented himself at trial.

A jury found him guilty April 11 of all 10 counts he faced. He will be sentenced June 27 by U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells.

Kall asks that Judge Wells order Traficant to file a response stating whether he wishes to continue to represent himself or if Squire and Pierre-Louis are now his attorneys of all remaining matters in the case.

Objects to new trial

In another filing today, the government objected to Traficant's request for a new trial. The issues, Kall said, are not new and have been ruled against several times.

Traficant contends the jury selection process, which drew no jurors from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, violated his constitutional rights. Kall called the complaint a "tired claim."

"In essence, Congressman Traficant is claiming that he was entitled to a special jury pool that no other defendant in this district [or any other district] is ever given -- a right to be tried by jurors that either know him or know of him," Kall said in his filing. There is no error in dividing a judicial district into divisions, or having jurors from different geographic parts of a large geographic division report to jury duty at different courthouses within the division, the prosecutor said.

Traficant has accused Judge Wells of not allowing two of his witnesses to testify.

Government answer

The congressman destroyed an audiotape of one witness, which Kall said represented blatant misconduct. The other witness said a colleague had not gotten kickbacks from Traficant, which was never an issue.

Lastly, Kall said Judge Wells' asking if Traficant intended to take the witness stand in his own defense was done because he continually ran out of witnesses. The judge simply attempted to control the trial proceedings, Kall said.

meade@vindy.com




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