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By Jack Douglas Jr. | CBS11
DALLAS (CBS11) – The federal corruption trial for County Commissioner John Wiley Price was on the brink of collapse today after prosecutors weathered further scorn by the judge for failing to turn over all of the required material needed for attorneys to prepare their defense for Price and his executive assistant and co-defendant, Dapheny Fain.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn denied a motion for a mistrial, requested by Fain’s attorney, Tom Mills, but she said she was still considering his motion to dismiss the criminal charges against his client, as an alleged accomplice in political corruption, bribery and tax fraud.
While allowing the trial to proceed, Lynn said she remained concerned about the “fundamental fairness” of the government’s prosecution of Price and Fain, considering the prosecutors’ “repeated shortfalls.”
The judge was so mad, she called before her Chad Meacham, second-in-command at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, in lieu of John Parker, U.S. attorney for the government’s Northern District, who was in Washington.
Meacham said the office was proud of its record of judicial performance, but “we have fallen short of it here. We’re sorry for that…”
Revelation that prosecutors had not turned over to defense lawyers everything they should have came at the closing of the trial yesterday, triggering for the second time defense requests for a mistrial and eroding the judge’s confidence that more missing material may surface.
The latest discovery involved government reports about an apartment for lobbyist Kathy Nealy, and a suite she rented at American Airline Center. Nealy is a close friend of Price’s who is also a co-defendant in the FBI’s corruption case who is scheduled to be tried later.
Walt Junker, who has received the brunt of the judge’s anger, said he couldn’t promise that more missing documents – owed to the defense – may surface as the trial moves forward.
Junker could only assure the judge that, “no matter how much I fear the result,” if more material needs to be turned over to defense attorneys, the government will do so quickly.
Lynn said she was also skeptical that prosecutors, who had seven years to prepare their case against Price, only seem to discover their mistakes after Chris Knox, one of Price’s lawyers, presses government witnesses for answers.
“There are consequences,” the judge said, “that can’t be undone.”
It remains to be seen how the latest disruption, all played out with the jury out of the courtroom, will impact the rest of the trial, now in its eighth week, or what the implications will be for subsequent appeals.