Speaker Chatfield Ordered to Testify in Rep. Inman’s Trial

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A federal judge has ordered Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) to testify in the trial of a fellow Republican lawmaker set to begin next week.

The Associated Press reports that District Judge Robert Jonker rejected Chatfield’s attempt to quash his subpoena in the case of Rep. Larry Inman (R-Grand Traverse County). Chatfield isn’t accused of any wrongdoing himself, but Jonker said his testimony is vital to the jury’s evaluation.

The judge argued that a legislator isn’t immune from testifying when a fellow lawmaker is on trial, saying there is “no applicable privilege” to prevent Chatfield from testifying.

Speaker Chatfield’s attorney said in a motion to overturn the subpoena that “forcing the speak to attend trial would prevent the speaker from fulfilling his official duties at a time when critical legislation needs to be acted on and funding deficiencies addressed.”

Jonker said Chatfield’s “logistical concerns” can be readily managed, and pointed out that even Inman will be able to “tend to legislative business after the trial day ends.”

Inman was indicted by a federal grand jury in May on charges of attempted extortion, bribery, and lying to an FBI agent. His crimes carry sentences of 20 years, 10 years, and five years, respectively. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan said Inman attempted to solicit money via text messages to a Michigan labor union in June 2018. In exchange for the payments, Inman said he would cast a dissenting vote on a conservative legislative initiative to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law.

Shortly after the indictment was announced, Inman checked himself into rehab to be treated for opioid addiction. Several text messages released in August backed up claims that Inman attempted to sell his vote to the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

The Michigan House overwhelmingly approved of a resolution calling on Inman to resign in a vote of 98-8. A number of his fellow Republicans, including Chatfield, have called for Inman’s resignation, but he has so far refused.

Inman’s trial is scheduled to begin December 3, the same day the Michigan House returns for session.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

 

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