CLEVELAND – Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. is seeking to overturn his conviction on corruption and bribery charges, saying a judge violated his rights by restricting testimony of his witnesses.
Traficant was convicted April 11 of taking bribes and kickbacks from businessmen and his own staff. Sentencing is set for June 27.
In a motion filed late Monday in U.S. District Court, Traficant said the verdict should be overturned and a new trial convened because of errors by U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells.
The judge prevented several of Traficant's witnesses from testifying because they were providing secondhand accounts or reporting statements made by other people. Such hearsay testimony is barred unless it meets a specific exception in the rules of evidence.
Traficant also said the judge violated his rights when she asked him in front of the jury whether he would take the stand, which he didn't. He claims his right to a jury of his peers was also violated because the jurors were from the Cleveland area and not the Youngstown district he represents in Congress.
Bill Edwards, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Tuesday his office will file a written response to Traficant's motion and won't comment until then.