Thursday, May 04, 2006

Update: Nebraska Impeachment of Regent Hergert.

Last week I posted about the Nebraska impeachment trial of C. David Hergert, here. The trial is scheduled to begin next week, but yesterday the Nebraska Supreme Court heard arguments on Hergert's motion to dismiss the case.

The Omaha World Herald reports on the arguments:

Every elected official in Nebraska could be subject to a "political witch hunt" if the Legislature's impeachment of Regent David Hergert for violating election law is allowed to stand, a lawyer argued Wednesday to the State Supreme Court. "The impeachment is an attempt by the Legislature to rewrite the Nebraska Constitution and reverse more than 100 years of precedent," said Christopher Ferdico, a lawyer for Hergert. "The underlying offenses do not rise to impeachable offenses even if they are true." Ferdico said the Nebraska Constitution allows officials to be impeached only for offenses committed while in office.

But prosecutor David Domina said Hergert must be held accountable for the campaign finance violations that enabled him to get into office. Domina likened the case to shooting someone. Pulling the trigger is the first step, but the crime doesn't occur until the bullet hits the victim. "The acts committed before he was in office enabled him to get into office," he said. "The fraud doesn't become complete until his incumbency."

The high court did not immediately rule on the request from Ferdico to throw out the case against Hergert. The impeachment trial is scheduled to begin Monday and could last up to 15 days.

I think it unlikely that the Supreme Court is going to dismiss the case, but it's less clear whether the Court will find that Hergert should be removed from office. Stay tuned for updates next week when the trial gets underway.


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