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Dallas public corruption trial moved back to February

Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn planned to begin jury selection on Nov. 2 in the trial of Ruel Hamilton. The trial start has been moved to February.
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Updated at 5:07 p.m. Friday with information about a delay. 

On Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn ordered that the corruption trial for Ruel Hamilton be delayed until February. 

Lynn moved the case start from next week to Feb. 8 because a government witness is sick. The witness wasn't identified and officials did not say what the illness was. 

Hamilton is accused of paying bribes to two former Dallas City Council members. 

Original story:

Justice rolls on, even in a pandemic.

On Monday, Nov. 2, Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn plans to begin jury selection in the trial of Ruel Hamilton, a developer accused of paying bribes to two former Dallas City Council members in exchange for political backing of his housing projects.

Hamilton has pleaded not guilty in the case.

RELATED: Federal judge denies former Dallas councilman's prison release request

One of those council members, Dwaine Caraway, currently serving time in federal prison for taking bribes in another case, is on the government’s witness list to testify about money he allegedly took from Hamilton. Caraway is not facing charges for his interactions with Hamilton.

The other former council member, Carolyn Davis, had pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Hamilton when she was killed in a July 2019 car crash.

RELATED: Late former Dallas council member who admitted taking bribes wanted to withdraw her guilty plea, court records allege

The case will feature recordings of wiretapped phone conversations, text messages, emails and surveillance evidence, among other things, according to federal court filings.

Prosecutors plan to call, among others, former Mayor Mike Rawlings to testify about Dallas City Council procedures and votes, according to documents filed Monday in federal court.

Notable names on the defense witness list include Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. It’s unclear what he might testify to in the case.

Prosecutors estimate their portion of the case will take five days, which means testimony will take place the same week as the contentious U.S. presidential election.

The trial will also take place amid an historic pandemic. Judge Lynn became one of the first judges in the United States to hold an in-person jury trial earlier this summer, and is expected to have similar disease control measures in place for this trial including masks and social distancing.