The Norman Transcript


January 13, 2014

Judge upset at pace of justice



Gerhart has acknowledged that he sent an email to Republican Sen. Cliff Branan of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, on March 26. Among other things, the email demanded that Branan give the House-passed legislation a hearing in his committee, “or I will make sure you regret not doing it.”

Branan testified at a preliminary hearing in September, when Gerhart’s trial date was set, that he felt threatened by the email. An affidavit of probable cause filed in the case says the email to Branan “was intended to threaten and intimidate him.”

Gerhart’s motion to delay his trial says he needed more time to obtain documents his attorneys had subpoenaed. Subpoenas issued to the state House, Senate and governor’s office request copies of emails or other communication that mention Gerhart, the Sooner Tea Party or the number of the bill that was the subject of the email.

But the subpoenas were not issued until Dec. 20, less than a month before Gerhart’s trial date, and were not actually served until Jan. 3, little more than a week before the trial date. Attorneys for the House are objecting to the subpoena because House staff was not given adequate time to retrieve the documents, and attorneys for the Senate and governor’s office have indicated they plan to ask the judge to throw out the other subpoenas.

Elliott said waiting three months after a trial date is set to issue subpoenas is not a valid reason to seek a new trial date and that it would not have been an issue if the subpoenas had been issued sooner. Wilson replied that he had been involved in plea negotiations with prosecutors on Gerhart’s behalf.

“There had been some discussion. We did not anticipate getting this far,” Wilson said. “We hoped to be able to work this case out.”

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