Bill Baxley, lead defense attorney for Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard, denied rumors that Hubbard has accepted a plea deal.
"Absolutely not, there has never ever been any thought or any talk or any hint of taking a plea, never," Baxley told The Plainsman. "That is a totally untrue rumor. I don't know how it got started. It is completely without any grain of truth to it."
Rumors stating that Hubbard had accepted a plea deal arose yesterday on various internet sources after Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins posted on his Facebook account that the plea deal was fact. The Alabama political blogs The Meck Report and Legal Schnauzer posted articles yesterday citing Watkins' Facebook post.
The articles reported that Hubbard had accepted the plea deal to prevent going to trial. The rumors claimed that Hubbard would resign from office, plead guilty to the charges and agree to to serving an 18-month sentence, 12 months of which would be served in the Lee County Jail.
Hubbard, R-Auburn, faces 23 counts of felony ethics charges in connection with using his office as the former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party to solicit personal favors.
Judge Jacob A. Walker denied a motion from the defense last month to delay the trial again. Jury selection for his trial is expected to begin May 16, with opening arguments to be made May 24–25.
Hubbard was indicted in August 2014, but the trial has been delayed numerous times. The state's special prosecutions team, led by Assistant Attorney General Matt Hart, has been plagued with allegations of misconduct.
The Auburn Republican lost his initial defense team in December, including attorneys Mark White and Augusta Dowd. White, Hubbard's former lead defense attorney, was recently named the Dean of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and has represented such clients as AIG, AT&T and Costco.
The defense team now includes former attorneys Bill Baxley and Lance Bell. Baxley served as attorney general of Alabama from 1971–1979 and lieutenant governor from 1983–1987.
Hubbard's defense team maintains that the rumors are completely false — that he has not and will not accept a plea deal.