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State Supreme Court to review Hubbard conviction

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court will review former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics conviction, his attorney said Monday.

Hubbard was one of the state’s most influential Republicans, but his political career ended with his 2016 conviction on ethics charges. Prosecutors said that Hubbard used the mantle of political office to drum up clients and investments for his businesses.

Defense attorney Bill Baxley said Monday that justices granted review on one matter but it was the one he considered the “catch-all issue” in the case. Baxley said that was whether the law is clear and if Hubbard’s behavior constituted a violation.

“We are delighted,” Baxley said.

The allegations against Hubbard included that he improperly asked lobbyists and company executives for work and investments in his printing business.

Baxley said that Hubbard did not intend to violate the law, and took “great pains” to try to make sure that he followed it. Trial testimony showed Hubbard consulted with the then-head of the Alabama Ethics Commission to get informal guidance about his private sector work.

Attorney General Steve Marshall said he was confident the conviction would be upheld.

“Until now, the Alabama Supreme Court has only heard from Mike Hubbard. 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.

Hubbard was automatically removed from office in 2016 when he was convicted on the felony charges. A judge sentenced Hubbard to four years in prison, but he is free on bond as he appeals his conviction.

The Supreme Court review comes after the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals court last year affirmed 11 of the 12 counts against Hubbard.

The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Hubbard’s arguments that the transactions were aboveboard business dealings in which investors and companies that employed him got a fair value return for their money. The court also rejected arguments by the former speaker that the prosecution was tainted by prosecutorial and juror misconduct.

However, the appellate judges also simultaneously urged lawmakers to address what they described as ambiguities in the state ethics law.

“The language of Alabama’s ethics law should be clear as to which persons, businesses, and acts fall within its reach,” judges wrote.

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