Smith seeks trial delay in move that may aid speaker in tax vote

SHARE Smith seeks trial delay in move that may aid speaker in tax vote

SPRINGFIELD-With votes tight for keeping a 2011 tax increase in place, the attorney representing indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith has asked a federal judge to delay the start of his May 28th corruption trial by three days.

If a federal judge agrees to the request, House Speaker Michael Madigan stands to get valuable extra time, if he needs it, to round up the necessary votes to pass a tax-extension bill. The speaker is believed to be well short of the necessary 60 votes he needs to send the legislation to the Senate.

“We’re asking the judge if he can be there through the end of session,” defense lawyer Victor Henderson said of his client in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday.

Smith is believed to be a certain yes vote for keeping the 2010 tax increase permanent and thus is a key part of Madigan’s ongoing head-counting efforts in his legislative chamber. The 2011 increase in individual and corporate income tax rates is set to roll back in January, creating a potential $4 billion hole in next year’s state budget.

Smith, who is charged with accepting a $7,000 bribe from an undercover FBI informant, lost his re-election bid last March despite heavy support from Madigan’s political organization.

“There are significant pieces of legislation that are scheduled to be voted upon on and between Wednesday, May 28th and Saturday, May 31st,” a motion filed by Henderson last week states.  “Representative Smith is required to attend in order to represent his district.”

Henderson would not say whether Smith or Madigan sought the delay.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman is expected to decide on the motion during a hearing Wednesday morning.

Henderson stated in his motion that prosecutors have no position on the request.

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