Judge gives Hastert lawyers more time for pre-trial motions

AP News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 5:11 PM
Judge gives Hastert lawyers more time for pre-trial motions

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge agreed Friday to give lawyers for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert more time to file pre-trial motions in his hush-money case.

Attorneys for the Illinois Republican and federal prosecutors filed a joint motion Thursday asking for a two-week extension of Monday's filing deadline. The two sides say they've been discussing issues Hastert's lawyers may raise, and that the extension may give them time to address those issues so the motions won't be necessary.

U. S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin granted the request without comment.

Hastert allegedly agreed in 2010 to pay $3.5 million to someone identified in a May indictment only as "Individual A" to hide misconduct. The Associated Press and other media, citing anonymous sources, have reported the payments were intended to conceal decades-old claims of sexual misconduct by the former high school coach and teacher.

Hastert is charged with violating banking laws by structuring cash withdrawals to avoid reporting and with lying to the FBI about the withdrawals. The 73-year-old has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.

Thursday's filings don't disclose what issues the lawyers are discussing. But Washington, D.C.-based defense attorney Thomas Green previously suggested he would file a motion to dismiss the charges based at least in part on government leaks of information regarding Individual A and the misconduct allegations. Green has called those leaks "unconscionable" and says they may have violated Hastert's right to a fair trial.

Both sides have taken pains to keep information about the case secret, with prosecutors asking Durkin to keep any information they classify as "sensitive" sealed, even after the proceedings are over. Their discussions about pre-trial issues could be a continuation of those efforts.

Durkin refused the request to automatically seal any information, saying that a motion must be filed if either side wants something to be kept under seal. Durkin said that if he grants such a motion, a redacted copy of the information would be publicly available.

If prosecutors and defense attorneys are able to work out issues among themselves, such as sharing information gathered during the case, they could avoid having to file some motions and risk having certain information made public.

Durkin also rescheduled the next status hearing in the case for Nov. 16.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.