By Steven T. Jones
The big Ringling Bros. elephant abuse trial that I wrote about in the current issue of the Guardian has been delayed by two weeks — for a politically interesting reason.
Federal District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the Ringling Bros. case, is also presiding over the political corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who has asked for a speedy trial to try to clear his name before the fall election, when he will try to continue as the longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate. To accommodate the Stevens trial, Sullivan moved the Ringling trial start from Oct. 7 to Oct. 20. Apparently he wants to dispose of one elephant case before dealing with the next.
Meanwhile, also in a Washington D.C. court, another big Ringling-related lawsuit is moving forward. Superior Court Judge Brook Hedge yesterday ruled on motions for summary judgment in the strange case of journalist Jan Pottker vs. Ringling owner Ken Feld, which involves allegations of using former CIA operatives to sabotage Pottker’s efforts to write about Feld. Judge Hedge granted motions removing National Press Books and other ancillary defendants from the case, but denied Feld’s motion and will apparently allow the nine-year-old case to move toward trial.
“The filings are voluminous, but the core facts relevant to the claims are set forth above and revolve around the admitted plan to divert plaintiff from authoring any more works on the circus,” the judge wrote in a 45-page opinion.
For more details, read my story.
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