With the trial scheduled to start in early May, attorneys for both sides in the corruption case against former state probation commissioner John J. O’Brien are trying to shape the evidence to be presented to a US District Court jury.
In a series of motions filed Monday, O’Brien’s defense lawyers and prosecutors in US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office disagreed on whether, or how, jurors will hear the words “rigged” and “sham.’’
O’Brien’s lawyers asked US District Judge William G. Young to prevent any witness from uttering those two words.
O’Brien and his top deputies Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke are charged with racketeering for allegedly running an illegal hiring scheme, favoring candidates who were sponsored by state legislators over more qualified candidates.
In exchange, prosecutors say, the legislators routinely boosted the Probation Department budget. O’Brien and his two aides have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
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