Bromwells' corruption trial delayed 4 days

March 10, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

A federal judge in Baltimore yesterday announced that the public corruption trial against former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr. and his wife will be delayed.

U.S. District Court J. Frederick Motz said jury selection will begin on Thursday, four days later than originally scheduled to accommodate an attorney in the case whose mother recently died. Because of conflicts in the judge's schedule and other pre-trial motions hearings, opening arguments will not be heard until March 26, Motz said.

Indicted almost 18 months ago, Bromwell, 58, and his wife face racketeering charges that accuse the former senator of accepting bribes from a local construction company executive in exchange for the ex-politician's help in securing publicly funded contracts.

His wife, Mary Patricia, 43, is accused of accepting a salary for a no-show job at a subcontractor controlled by the same construction company, Poole and Kent, in return for the company's use of her husband's influence.

Seven defendants, including the former president of Poole and Kent, have already pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against the Bromwells.

The trial is expected to last at least two months.

The change in the trial date came to light yesterday during a motion hearing requested by The Sun.

The newspaper sought access to a raft of sealed documents, which its lawyers estimated amount to about one-third of all of the recent filings in the case.

Sun attorney Charles Tobin, a partner with the Washington firm Holland and Knight, argued that the newspaper wanted the secret documents unsealed because the items could be critical to understanding the full nature of the charges against Bromwell, once considered among the most powerful politicians in Annapolis.

Motz indicated that he had long planned to release the documents into public view after jury selection. But Tobin argued that Motz should unseal the documents immediately, saying that case law bars a judge from keeping a document sealed just because he or she might be worried about picking an impartial jury.

Federal prosecutors and attorneys for the Bromwells did not offer any support of The Sun's position or any objection during the 30-minute hearing. Instead, they joined the judge behind closed doors afterward to go through and discuss the sealed documents individually.

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