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Government, Politics & Issues
Gov. Eric Greitens announced in late May that he would resign after facing months of political and legal scandals.The saga started in January, when KMOV released a recording of a woman saying Greitens took a compromising photo of her during a sexual encounter and threatened to blackmail her.A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens in February on felony invasion of privacy. The woman testified to lawmakers that Greitens sexually and physically abused her, spurring bipartisan calls for his resignation or impeachment.The invasion of privacy charge was eventually dropped by St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office following a series of prosecutorial missteps before the trial began. Greitens was also accused of illegally obtaining a donor list from the veterans non-profit he co-founded with his political campaign, but that charge, too, was dismissed as part a deal that led to his resignation as governor.

Greitens' defense team looks to speed up trial — again

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters in his office at the state Capitol in Jefferson City on January 22, 2018.
FIle photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Attorneys for Gov. Eric Greitens, shown here speaking to reporters in January, want to move his trial up to April 3 and have the case heard by a judge.

Attorneys for Gov. Eric Greitens want to get his felony invasion of privacy case tried as soon as possible.

His defense team told St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Monday they plan to file a motion to move the trial date to April 3, from its current date of May 14. They are also planning to ask that Burlison hear the case, rather than have it go before a jury.

“The governor is innocent and is entitled to have his case heard and get it over with. We’re ready to go, and the state should be, too. It’s going to be a brief trial,” said Edward Dowd, a member of the Greitens legal team. “There’s been a lot of publicity by people not even involved in the case, with a lot of false allegations, and I think we might be better off with a judge.”

Greitens is accused of taking a semi-nude photo of his then-mistress back in 2015 and transmitting the photo so it could be accessed by a computer. He has pleaded not guilty. So far, the photo in question has not been turned over to defense attorneys.

Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for circuit attorney Kim Gardner, said Gardner opposed any attempt to have Burlison hear the case rather than a jury.

“The circuit attorney believes that the citizens of St. Louis should have the ability to review the evidence and make a decision,” she said.

This is not the first time Greitens’ legal team has moved to speed up the case. When prosecutors originally charged the governor back in February, they asked for a trial date in the fall. Burlison later set the May 14 date — which, if it stands, would also be the start of the final week of the General Assembly’s 2018 session.

Also on Monday, defense attorneys filed a motion to disqualify Ronald S. Sullivan, a Harvard law professor who joined the prosecution March 5 and has referred to himself as a special prosecutor in court documents.

Special prosecutors are only allowed in cases where the circuit attorney has a conflict of interest, Jim Bennett wrote in the brief, and are named by the court, not by the prosecutor. State law also makes it a misdemeanor for a special prosecutor to simultaneously represent clients as a defense attorney. 

A screenshot from a court document filed March 12, 2018, showed Ronald S. Sullivan using the title special prosecutor, which defense attorneys claim violates state law.
Credit Screenshot | 22nd Circuit Court
A screenshot from a court document filed March 12, 2018, showed Ronald S. Sullivan using the title special prosecutor, which defense attorneys claim violates state law.

Ryan said Sullivan is serving as an assistant circuit attorney, not a special prosecutor, despite his use of that title. And his criminal defense clients are in federal court in Connecticut, she said, which presents no conflict of interest. 

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Have questions about the Greitens indictment? Ask them here.

 

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