Update from the corruption case against former state Sen. Jon Woods: Doug Thompson reports for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette that U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks will today review communications between Woods’ former attorney, W.H. Taylor, and federal prosecutors and investigators. But the hearing is closed, and no rulings will be disclosed.
Woods’ current counsel alleges that Taylor had a conflict of interest because he was also representing an FBI investigator — who was potentially present for a government interview with Woods — in an unrelated matter. The defense contends that certain statements made available to the U.S. attorney and FBI investigators should be subject to attorney-client privilege.
Officials cleared the audience from the court room this morning, Thompson reports, and a court clerk stated that even if Brooks makes a ruling, that ruling will not be made public.
Federal prosecutors allege that Woods took kickbacks from state money he guided to Ecclesia College and a mental health agency. Also on trial are Oren Paris III, president of the college, and Randell Shelton Jr., a friend of Woods and Paris who allegedly participated in the scheme.
Last month, Brooks set the trial date for April 9, after previously delaying it
because of the recent discovery by the defense of the existence of 79 recordings, covering 52 hours of conversation, that were surreptitiously made by former Rep. Micah Neal.
Neal has pleaded guilty to being part of the scheme and set to be a witness for the government.
Shelton is trying to have the charge against him dismissed. He argues the additional conversations might have exculpatory evidence.
After today’s evidentiary hearings on the attorney-client privilege matter and other requests by Woods’ attorneys which are under seal, next up is a hearing on Shelton’s motion to dismiss on Jan. 25.