State Senators sworn in as jurors; Carroll Fisher impeachment trial set

Tuesday, September 14th 2004, 9:22 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma senators were sworn in as jurors Tuesday for the impeachment trial of state Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Joesph Watt was installed as presiding officer for the first impeachment trial at the Oklahoma Capitol in four decades. Watt scheduled the trial to begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

Tuesday's special session of the Senate laid the groundwork for the trial and included the reading of five articles of impeachment adopted by the House last week.

If convicted in a Senate trial, Fisher will be removed from office.

The articles _ which accuse Fisher of neglect of duty, corruption and incompetency _ were presented by the House's six-member Board of Managers, who will act as prosecutors in the case. Rep. Frank Davis, R-Guthrie, is the lead prosecutor.

The Senate, by voice vote, adopted two resolutions _ one accepting the impeachment document and one detailing the rules for conducting the trial.

Senators previously had been notified to expect to begin the trial on Oct. 4, but the trial date was moved up one week.

Sen. Charles Laster, who will take over next year as judiciary chairman, said the Sept. 27 date will give attorneys for both sides ample time to prepare their case.

``By starting on Sept. 27, I am very confident that we will be done and we will fulfill our constitutional requirements by Nov. 16,'' said Laster, D-Shawnee.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson has said the trial must be finished by Nov. 16, when the terms of members of the 49th Legislature expire, or the process will have to start over next year.

Fisher, who has been attending a national meeting of insurance commissioners, was not in attendance.

His attorney, Irven Box, said he is still planning to file legal action, first in the Supreme Court and next in the federal courts if necessary, to delay the trial.

Box contends it is unfair for his client to face an impeachment trial and criminal trials on similar charges. Box said he also needs more time to prepare for the impeachment case.