Jury chosen for ethics trial of House Speaker Mike Hubbard

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — A jury has been picked for House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics trial scheduled to start next week.

The panel of 12 jurors and four alternates is made up of five black men, four white men, four black women and three white women, news media outlets reported.

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday instructed the panel not to discuss the high-profile case. Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his public positions to make money and obtain financial favors from lobbyists and others with business before the Alabama Legislature. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintained the transactions were legal. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Walker said he intends to start the trial Tuesday. Defense lawyer Bill Baxley told the judge, however, that he intends to file a motion under seal later this week to an appeals court challenging a pretrial decision in the case, al.com reported. That could potentially delay the start of the trial. Walker has said he did not want to seat the jury until all pretrial appeals are finished. The defense has so far been unsuccessful, however, in attempts in appellate court to get the case dismissed.

Hubbard is accused of steering GOP campaign printing work to one of his companies; asking lobbyists and corporate leaders for employment, investments or help finding clients; lobbying the governor's office on behalf of one of his clients; and taking legislative action that could have steered Medicaid pharmacy business to a client of one of his companies.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers spent more than two days whittling down a pool of 100 prospective jurors to the final panel that will decide Hubbard's fate.

During jury selection, attorneys asked the prospective jurors if they generally thought politicians were crooked or if they thought there were some good people elected to government office. They also tried to gauge attitudes toward high-profile witnesses in the case, including Gov. Robert Bentley.

Defense lawyer David McKnight on Tuesday asked prospective jurors if they ever sent an email they wouldn't want read aloud in front of strangers, or if they would be offended by emails with "pushy" sales language.

Prosecutors are expected to introduce into evidence emails that Hubbard sent.