Attorneys arguing over "voluminous" evidence in corruption case

Photo: Tallahassee DIA

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 15, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) -- A motion filed by U.S. attorneys Tuesday provides a glimpse into what they call a “voluminous” amount of evidence in the corruption case against Scott Maddox, Paige Carter-Smith and J.T. Burnette.

“By rough count, there are about 890,442 pages of reports and records and about 70 recordings, several of which are many hours long,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz wrote.

Burnette’s attorney alluded to the recordings after Burnette’s first appearance before a judge last week.

“We have not heard all the conversations. I haven’t heard the conversations in full and my client denies the allegations, obviously,” Tim Jansen said.

Burnette is the latest to be indicted in the FBI’s probe into corruption in Tallahassee. Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith were indicted on racketeering, fraud and extortion charges in December 2018. Burnette was indicted by a grand jury, which issued a 47-count superseding indictment, last week.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking the judge to expand an existing protective order for Maddox and Carter-Smith to include Burnette and his legal team. It essentially allows prosecutors to turn over evidence more quickly, and forbids the defendants and their lawyers from sharing “sensitive information” with anyone else, barring a court order.

According to court documents, the protective order would allow prosecutors to turn over information regarding “witnesses or other uncharged parties, such as personal identifiers, addresses and phone numbers, private financial information and confidential and sensitive information developed through investigations of law enforcement and the use of the grand jury.”

“In addition to those justifications, the discovery materials may relate to ongoing investigations,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz wrote in the newly-filed motion.

Defense attorneys call the proposed protective order “overly broad and unnecessary,” saying it could hamper their ability to prepare for Burnette’s upcoming June 17 trial.

In a motion to compel filed Tuesday, Burnette’s defense attorney said, “Such broad Protective Orders are not the normal procedure in federal court.”

Jansen contends prosecutors are refusing to turn over any of the evidence until they sign the order.

“The Government acknowledged that portions of discovery could be overnighted if we acquiesced to the blanket Protective Order,” he wrote.

Late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle scheduled a May 21 conference call to discuss the evidence dispute and the trial schedule. The judge ordered at least one attorney for each defendant to participate.

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