Carroll Fisher impeachment trial delay denied

Tuesday, September 21st 2004, 6:16 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher's bid to delay his Senate impeachment trial was denied Tuesday by the presiding officer of the Court of Impeachment.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph M. Watt, who is presiding over the Senate trial, said issues presented in the articles of impeachment have been known by all parties for several months and there is no reason for a delay.

Watt ordered the trial to begin as scheduled at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

His ruling came on the same day that attorneys for Fisher went before a Supreme Court referee with an identical request. Fisher wants the impeachment trial put off until after two criminal cases accusing him of five felonies are resolved in district court.

Fisher, 64, faces five articles of impeachment accusing him of neglect of duty, incompetency and corruption.

Among the motions pending before the Supreme Court are a request that senators be polled individually to determine if they have any prejudice in the case and to suppress evidence collected by the multicounty grand jury, which continues to investigate the official.

Watt denied both those motions on Tuesday, acting as the Senate's presiding officer.

He decreed that the counts against Fisher be voted on separately by senators.

Fisher has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and rejected calls for him to resign.

Senators were sworn in as jurors last week for the first impeachment trial of a state official since Supreme Court Justice N.B. Johnson was convicted in a corruption case and removed from office in 1965.

Fisher is awaiting trial in two criminal cases in Oklahoma County. Three of the charges against him are linked to his allegedly illegal operation of a charity, one is tied to alleged mishandling of an education fund set up for insurance agents and one to depositing a $1,000 campaign donation into his personal bank account.