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Judge rejects Turner's request to move sentencing date

A federal judge on Thursday denied former City Councillor Chuck Turner's request to move his sentencing date. The date is still set for Jan. 25, three and a half weeks before voters go to the polls to replace him.

Turner, who was tossed from the City Council after a jury convicted him of taking a $1,000 bribe, had argued that because his lead attorney, Barry Wilson, was out of the country until March, his sentencing should be postponed.

"This fact was known, considered and its implication understood when the sentencing date was established," Judge Douglas Woodlock wrote in his order, adding that he found "nothing in the current record before me to justify this belated effort to obtain a continuance."

Woodlock pointed to a transcript of Wilson's remarks when the sentencing date was set immediately after the jury returned its guilty verdict. "I understand, I understand," Wilson said. "Mr. Pavlos [the defendant’s co-counsel at trial] will have to do it. Yeah. And after this, maybe I’ll never come back. But, no. I will be gone for a long time. Thank you."

Turner had also argued Wilson needed to be there because of disagreements with his other attorneys over tactics. But Woodlock said that was nothing new, and that Turner had clashed with his defense counsel during the trial, particularly over whether he should take the stand. Wilson had opposed the move.

Turner has maintained his innocence, and filed the unsuccessful request for a rescheduling a day after former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who was charged in a related corruption case, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.

Turner is also suing the city, saying the City Council violated his rights by removing him from office.

The preliminary election to fill Turner's District 7 seat is set for Feb. 15. The final election is scheduled for March 15.