Intelligence Report: Time may be on State Rep Derrick Smith's side in bribery case

May 10, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Smith, who was recently charged in a bribery case, pledges to continue his run for re-election.

In This Intelligence Report: Why the voters in November may not know much more about the federal case against Smith than they do right now.

When it comes to criminal cases against candidates in an election year, it usually comes down to "as the calendar turns."

In Smith's case, is there enough time for the federal corruption prosecution against him to germinate so that voters will know enough about him to cast an intelligent vote? As of the now, there is an obstacle course in the court docket that makes it appear unlikely much will play out before November.

At the state capitol Thursday, the Democratic lawmaker from Chicago arrived with his criminal attorney, the same one defending him from federal charges that he took a $7,000 bribe for steering a state grant.

Smith was summoned to appear in front of a special investigative committee of the house. He stated his and little else.

Rejecting loud calls for his resignation from the General Assembly and refusing to step down as a candidate for re-election-will, for the voters, place a premium on what happens here and how quickly.

Pre-trial motions were due Thursday in the Smith case, but a squabble between attorneys for the government and the state lawmaker has now delayed that.

The initial steps forward in the case won't begin until the end of this month, and they are still a long way from even setting a reasonable trial date.

Meantime, in Springfield, Smith's attorney pleaded with the investigators committee to reverse any decisions until the government's case takes shape.

"I urge each and every one you not to draw any conclusions, much less premature conclusions, until after you have had the chance to review all of the material facts regarding the charge against the representative," said Smith attorney Victor Henderson.

At the Springfield hearing Thursday, Representative Smith declined to answer any questions under oath, but he was insistent that he will not step down or aside.

Time may well be on his side. Tenth District Chicago voters are unlikely to know much more about the charges against him on Election Day then they do today.

Corruption cases may take years to actually reach trial in federal court. The election is in less than six months.

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