Judge: Gov. McDonnell defense “dancing through fantasy land” - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Judge: Gov. McDonnell defense “dancing through fantasy land”

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

In a legal defeat for former Gov. Bob McDonnell's defenseteam, a federal judge Tuesday dismissed arguments from the McDonnells' lawyers,and said prosecutors are not interfering with the defense's investigation.

"The defense is operating under the assumption that thegovernment is going to do wrong in this instance," said Judge James R. Spencer."I do not make that assumption."

The 20 minute hearing Monday centered on a civil caseinvolving Jonnie Williams, the former Star Scientific CEO who gave more than$165,000 in gifts and loans to the McDonnells.

The civil case is being delayed – a request made by federalprosecutors. Because the case is delayed, McDonnell's defense said evidencefavorable to the former governor is not being discovered.

"This is the government's attempt to stop the defense fromfinding evidence," said defense lawyer James M. Burnham. "There is alongstanding rule that the government is not allowed to interfere in thedefense's investigation."

Prosecutors said the delay in the civil case prevents thediscovery of sensitive evidence, including documents to which the McDonnellsare not entitled.

The McDonnell team also argued the government is convincing witnessesnot to speak with the defense, a claim Judge Spencer quickly rejected.

"Nobody's telling anyone they can't talk to you," Spencersaid. "That to me is just dancing through fantasy land."

Judge Spencer ultimately denied the McDonnell's request tolimit prosecutors' involvement in the civil case. He also ordered both sides tomeet more frequently to settle disagreements, "for the sanctity of the trees."The comment refers to the mass quantity of paper used to print a multitude of documentsso far.

Two of the McDonnell daughters also joined their parents infederal court, including Cailin McDonnell and her husband, Chris Young.Prosecutors say Jonnie Williams paid $15,000 to cater McDonnell and Young'swedding.

As he walked out of the Richmond courthouse, Gov. McDonnellwished reporters to have a nice day, and then left in a family car with hiswife.

McDonnell's counsel said they will file a motion to dismissthe entire criminal case on or before March 25. The motion will be heard inMay, and the trial by jury is currently set for July 28, 2014.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

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