A federal judge has ordered that the corruption trial of Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) will be delayed six months in order to give his lawyers more time to prepare their defense.
Renzi has been charged with 35 corruption counts for allegedly concealing his personal financial stake in a federal land transfer bill, as well as insurance fraud. Renzi has denied the allegations but has announced his retirement from the House.
Renzi's trial had been scheduled to begin on April 29, but District Judge David C. Bury of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona agreed to delay it until Oct. 14 at the request of Renzi's defense team. Renzi's lawyers argued that his case was a complex one and they need more time to prepare, The Justice Department did not object to the delay, according to Bury's order.
Renzi's lawyers have also raised the possibility that they may raise Speech or Debate Clause claims regarding Renzi's case, which would further set back the start date since any such claims would have to be litigated out before the trial could begin. The Speech or Debate Clause is a constitutional privilege given to lawmakers that protects them from legal action over legislative activities. Democratic Rep. William Jefferson (La.) has delayed his own corruption trial on bribery and racketeering charges after raising Speech or Debate challenges to both the FBI search of his congressional office and the use of some legislative-related information in the grand jury presentation of his case.