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Hubbard’s attorneys ask court to toss ethics convictions

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Attorneys for former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard have asked the state Supreme Court to toss out his 2016 conviction on ethics charges, arguing prosecutors stretched the intent of the law when they charged him with using his office to benefit his businesses.

Hubbard’s defense team this week filed their opening brief after the Alabama Supreme Court this month agreed to review the case. His attorneys asked justices to issue a judgment of acquittal or at least grant Hubbard a new trial.

The appeal to the state high court is Hubbard’s last bid to overturn his conviction and avoid a prison sentence.

“Hubbard simply did not violate the law as the Legislature enacted it. Certainly there is no evidence that he ‘intentionally’ did so, where he acted in accordance with reasonable understanding of the law as written and where he repeatedly sought Ethics Commission guidance,” his attorneys wrote.

A jury convicted Hubbard of 12 ethics violations, including that he improperly asked lobbyists and company executives for work and investments in his printing and consulting businesses.

Alabama law prohibits politicians from soliciting a “thing of value” from a lobbyist or a lobbyist’s employer called principal. In the appeal, Hubbard’s attorneys argued the transactions were above-board business dealings and investors and others received “full value” for what they paid.

Defense lawyers for Hubbard also argued that prosecutors stretched who could be a considered a principal under the ethics law.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in August affirmed 11 of the 12 counts.

Hubbard was one of the state’s most influential Republicans, but he was automatically removed from office after the 2016 felony conviction. A judge sentenced Hubbard to four years in prison, but he is free on bond as he appeals his conviction.

Attorney General Steve Marshall said earlier this month that he is confident the conviction will be upheld.

“Once my prosecution team has the opportunity to brief the issues and argue the case, we feel confident the result will be the same as with the lower court rulings and justice will prevail,” Marshall said in a statement.

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