Yesterday, prosecutors and defense in the Senator Norm McAllister Incredibly Gross and Offensive Sexual Exploitation case got together and released the “discovery stipulation,” or in English, the projected timeline for a trial.
And as VTDigger’s Morgan True reports, it’s scheduled to take place “smack in the middle of the 2016 legislative session.”
Wouldn’t that be fun? If McAllister remains determined to hold on to his seat, he’d have cameras following him everywhere he goes in the Statehouse, and following him back and forth to the courthouse, and reporters asking all sorts of embarrassing questions of fellow lawmakers (“Hey, Senator Mullin, got a minute? I want to ask about your old roomie.”), especially Republicans, and especially Franklin County Republicans.
Of course, legal experts say that delays are virtually inevitable, so the likely outcome is that the trial will happen sometime later next year. Buzzkill. Even so, the cameras and reporters will be swarming.
But with the legal schedule set, Republicans will redouble their efforts to convince McAllister to deliver the face-saving resignation they all desperately want. As Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning told me last month, once the discovery stipulation is revealed, “the process will be clear and Norm will have to face it.”
That is the hope, anyway.
McAllister, who for some reason still answers his phone when reporters call, told VTDigger that he wants to complete his term in the Legislature. It must be noted that when he spoke, he hadn’t heard about the pretrial schedule. Maybe now he’ll finally begin to face reality — but McAllister has, shall we say, an arm’s length relationship with reality on this matter. (As shown in his willingness to talk with reporters on the record.) But I’m sure the Republican persuasion effort has kicked into a higher gear.
McAllister has apparently been hoping that he could “get this stuff resolved” and get on with his Senatorial life. Which creates an interesting tactical dilemma.
McAllister’s only real hope of staying in the Senate is to resolve the case — in his favor — before the Legislature reconvenes in January. It’s now clear that the only way he can do that is through a plea deal, which would involve some admission of guilt and some measure of punishment. (Unless the prosecution’s case is a LOT weaker than it seems.)
Usually in cases like these, the defense tries to drag things out as long as possible. The odds of conviction tend to dwindle with time. In this case, the defendant has a tangible interest in a quick proceeding. If, somehow, he made it through the 2016 session with a prosecution hanging over his head, he’d face a nightmarish campaign season. Even he would have to realize he couldn’t run for re-election while standing trial for horrendous felony sex charges. Wouldn’t he?
I dunno. The man has already displayed a spectacular capacity for self-delusion. For entertainment purposes, I have a rooting interest in seeing the old goat hang on as long as possible. For the sake of the political process and the good people of Franklin County, I hope the Republicans can somehow get through McAllister’s thick hide.