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Federal Trial Date Set For Dec. 16 in DMR Case
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Bill and Scott Walker's attorneys leave court after hearing Friday.

 

The case against former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources director Bill Walker, his son, and three others is now moving toward trial.

MPB's Evelina reports all five have entered pleas of not guilty on federal charges that include fraud and conspiracy.

The arraignment hearing for Walker, his son Scott, two other former DMR employees and former Diberville city manager Michael Janus was held in a federal courtroom in Gulfport, where a trial is set to begin in just over three weeks in front of District Judge Keith Starrett.

Defense attorneys say that date is likely to be postponed.

Joe Sam Owen represents former DMR chief of staff Joseph Zeigler, Jr.

"Possibly what may happens is a motion for continuence may be filed," he says. "The trial date is somewhat early. But that's not unusual."

"All of us are entitled to a speedy trial under our Constitution, and I'd say that's pretty speedy," says Corban Gunn, one of the attorneys representing Scott Walker. Gunn says the next step is the discovery process.

"We've got the trial dates and the scheduling order of dates people have to abide by and things have to be done," he says. "The biggest thing to be done now is for the government to turn over whatever documentation they have regarding this case."

Arthur Madden, another attorney representing Scott Walker, says he doesn’t know at this point whether they will request a change of venue.

On his way out of court after yesterday's arraignment, he was asked if he had concerns about pre-trial publicity. The DMR investigation has made headlines for more than a year.

"Scott Walker has been pilloried inthe press for 18 months, and I'm sure that's a factor we'll have to consider," he said.

A pre-trial conference will be December 6 in Hattiesburg, where Judge Starrett's offices are. However, at this point, the trial is still expected to be held in Gulfport.