Gov. Greitens wants his criminal trial moved up

8 months 3 weeks 4 days ago Monday, March 19 2018 Mar 19, 2018 Monday, March 19, 2018 12:24:00 PM CDT March 19, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is expected to ask a judge to move up his criminal trial to start in two weeks, more than a month earlier than scheduled.

Attorneys for the Republican governor at a St. Louis Circuit Court hearing Monday also said they anticipate asking for a bench trial.

Greitens was indicted in February on felony fourth-degree invasion of privacy for allegedly taking an unauthorized partially-nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015, before he was elected. Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied criminal wrongdoing, accusing Democratic Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of a politically-motivated investigation.

A jury trial is currently slated to start May 14. Defense attorneys said they anticipate asking that the case be moved up to April 3.

"This needs to be heard," Edward L. Dowd Jr., one of Greitens' attorneys, said after the hearing. "The governor is innocent and is entitled to have his case heard and get it over with."

Dowd cited the high amount of publicity the case has received in the request for a bench trial. The circuit attorney's office opposes both moves, spokeswoman Susan Ryan said.

"We believe the citizens of St. Louis, where the crime occurred, should have the opportunity to hear the evidence and make a decision on this case," Ryan said.

The circuit attorney's office had opposed even the May 14 date as too early, saying at previous court hearings that more time was needed to prepare. Prosecutors initially requested a trial date in November.

Defense attorneys said they will file a second motion to dismiss the case, accusing prosecutors of misleading the grand jury over instructions of law. Attorney John Garvey did not elaborate. The first such motion failed.

Chief Trial Assistant Robert Dierker called the claim "patently without merit."

Greitens' lawyers also filed a motion Sunday asking the court to disqualify Harvard professor Ronald Sullivan Jr. from the prosecution team. Sullivan was brought in earlier this month as a special assistant prosecutor.

The motion claims that the hiring of Sullivan violates a state law that forbids private attorneys from assisting elected prosecutors. It also notes that Sullivan represents parties other than the state of Missouri as a defense attorney in violation of state statutes.

Ryan said the circuit attorney's office has frequently hired special prosecutors over the years. She said Sullivan is a defense attorney for a client in a federal case in Connecticut, but state law allows him to work as a prosecutor as long as he isn't simultaneously acting as a defense attorney in Missouri.

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