Federal prosecutors say they have corrected technical problems that effectively delayed the transfer of a vast amount of computerized evidence to the defense in former Gov. Bob McDonnell's public corruption case.
In court papers filed late Monday, prosecutors disputed McDonnell's claim that they violated federal evidence-sharing rules. They said McDonnell's request for a court order directing the government to immediately correct the problems should be rejected because they provided two hard drives with the data in a usable format chosen by the defendants earlier Monday.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of a dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for helping promote the company's products. They have pleaded not guilty. A jury trial is scheduled to begin in late July.
The former governor's attorneys complained in court papers last week that prosecutors had handed over five million pages of electronic documents "in a chaotic format riddled with errors.'' They said it was "the digital equivalent to dumping five-million loose-leaf documents on the floor.''
Defense attorneys questioned whether prosecutors would make good on a promise to remedy the problem without a court order. They also asked U.S. District Judge James Spencer to order the government to immediately turn over FBI interview records and transcripts of grand jury testimony by Williams and two dozen other witnesses.
In its reply filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, the government acknowledged that "unexpected technical problems led to a brief delay in document production'' but said the glitch was far short of a rules violation. According to prosecutors, the government is only required to turn over evidence in time for the defense to effectively use it at trial.
In this case, they said, the government gave McDonnell the evidence in an accessible format ``one month after arraignment and more than five months before trial, and his counsel have more than ample time to make effective use of it.''