Attorneys for Jose Huizar are preparing to challenge the methods used to choose the federal grand jurors that indicted the suspended Los Angeles city councilman on public corruption charges, according to court papers obtained Friday.
Huizar’s lawyers indicate that they wish to question whether the grand jury in their client’s case represented “a fair cross-section of the community.”
Attorneys aren’t seeking juror names, but want, among other things, attendance records and reasons for the possible absences of any grand jurors who indicted Huizar. Such information “may reveal the demographic effects that the current pandemic had on the operation and composition of the grand jury in this case,” the document states.
The joint notice of motion to inspect grand juror selection records, filed Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, contains the response of prosecutors to each of the defense requests.
“Defendant has not offered any explanation as to why he requires these particular records to prepare to challenge the Court’s grand jury selection procedures,” is a response that is repeated several times by the prosecution.
Huizar’s side is also asking for records of exactly when grand jurors were summoned, as well as the juror number assigned to each grand juror who returned the 34-count federal racketeering indictment on July 30.
“Although 23 persons were initially seated on the grand jury, as few as 16 could have constituted the quorum which deliberated and returned Mr. Huizar’s indictment,” according to the defense.
A Nov. 2 court hearing is scheduled.
Huizar, 52, is accused of accepting $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for his support of downtown building projects. He has pleaded not guilty and faces trial next June.
He was stripped of all his committee assignments in November 2018 following FBI searches of his home and offices and was suspended by the council in June of this year.
Kevin de Leon, a former California Senate president pro tem, was appointed Oct. 13 to the District 14 seat. Huizar would have been termed out after next month’s election.
Huizar and five others were charged as a result of operation “Casino Loyale,” an FBI investigation into corruption at Los Angeles City Hall. The other defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge John Walter that they expect the Huizar trial to last about 20 days, and that it will involve between 40 and 45 witnesses.
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