DALLAS -- A federal judge on Thursday ruled that Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price can talk to his three co-defendants, and even witnesses, while he awaits trial on bribery charges.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn's ruling reverses a former ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Stickney, who told Price after his arrest July 25 that he could only talk to Dapheny Fain, his top county assistant, because they work together.
On Aug. 8, Price's attorney Billy Ravkind asked the judge to lift the ban, saying it hampered his client's right to prepare for trial.
'This condition ... impairs the defendant's right to prepare and present a defense, his right to participate in the preparation of his defense, his right to theeffective assistance of counsel, his right to due process of law, and his right to a levelplaying field, all of which are rights secured and protected by the U.S. Constitution,' Ravkind wrote.
Ravkind further argued that Price had limited sources to defend himself.
'Even though the defendant has worked steadily his entire life since childhood, and has served most of his adult life as a public official whose grueling work schedule is well known, his assets are relatively modest for a person of his age and status and, in any event, have been seized and rendered unavailable for his defense,' Ravkind wrote.
'Many persons he knows have been subpoenaed before the grand jury - a most powerful but completely one-sided resource which is wholly unavailable to him for the purpose of mounting his defense. The imbalance of resources is palpable in this case, which likely involves the government resources and expenditures in the millions of dollars,' Ravkind wrote.
In a 107-page indictment of Price, prosecutors allege he took more than $900,000 from Nealy in exchange for helping her clients get lucrative technology contracts from Dallas County. During a 2011 raid on his home, FBI agents seized more than $229,000 from a safe, and then seized another $230,000 from a land sale Price had attempted. The government is seeking to keep the money, calling it proceeds from crimes.
So far, only Nealy and Fain have asked the court for taxpayer money to pay their attorneys. Both requests have been granted. It's unclear if Price will do the same. Campbell is paying for his own lawyers.
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