Hearing set for March in Tripp immunity case

Attorneys to argue over federal testimony

January 28, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Howard County Circuit judge has scheduled another hearing in late March on whether state prosecutors used Linda R. Tripp's federally immunized testimony in their investigation against the Columbia resident.

Judge Diane O. Leasure set a March 29 hearing date yesterday for attorneys on both sides to argue more motions about Tripp's immunity protection and its role in the state investigation.

Leasure also told state prosecutors to submit written briefs by Feb. 25 and defense lawyers to submit filings by March 13.

Leasure picked the date to give attorneys more time to work on the complex legal issues and accommodate her court schedule, Tripp's lawyers said.

"It's an unusual proceeding that will require both sides to do substantial legal research," said one of the lawyers, Joseph Murtha.

Tripp was indicted in July on two counts of violating Maryland's wiretapping statute for taping a Dec. 22, 1997, phone conversation with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and then disclosing the tape's contents to Newsweek magazine.

The disclosure of that tape and others exposed a sexual relationship between Lewinsky and President Clinton. The tapes were crucial evidence that led to the impeachment of Clinton in December 1998.

State prosecutors and Tripp's lawyers questioned more than a dozen witnesses last month during a series of hearings on whether state investigators used tainted evidence.

Murtha and Dave Irwin, the other Tripp attorney, are asking Leasure to dismiss the indictment because, they allege, state prosecutors used tainted evidence.

State prosecutors dispute that contention.

"Not only was tainted evidence not used, but the dismissal of the indictment is not the remedy," Thomas M. McDonough, assistant state prosecutor, said yesterday.

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