DALLAS -- The five-year-old public corruption investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price won't be coming to an end this year.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn has pushed back the date of Price's trial to February 2017, according to a recent court order.
The trial had been set for September, but attorneys for Price and the two other remaining defendants, political consultant Kathy Nealy and Price's assistant Dapheny Fain, argued that they were having trouble accessing the government's enormous volume of evidence in the case.
The law requires that prosecutors make the government's evidence available to the defense in criminal cases. In the Price case, the evidence consists of about 9.2 terabytes of data, including documents, emails, videos and other recordings. (One terabyte of storage can hold more than 85,000,000 pages of Word documents, or more than 300,000 photographs, or 500 hours of video, the judge's order notes.)
The evidence is being stored on a server at the Federal Public Defender's Office in Dallas for the defendants to share.
Here is how the judge summarizes the reason for the delays in attorneys getting access to it.
"The Federal Public Defender’s Office, at great cost-savings to the public, has undertaken a pilot project to handle the voluminous discovery production. However, the system is new, so counsel lack prior experience with it. Because of this and the nature of the records themselves, it has taken a much longer time than anticipated to achieve a complete and searchable body of the digitalized discovery materials.The parties also have encountered serious problems involving compatibility between production load files and the litigation software used for processing the discovery. Defendants and the Federal Public Defender, as the coordinating discovery attorney, devised “work-arounds” to address these problems, but coming up with these solutions contributed to additional delay. As of June 2016, a significant portion of the discovery materials had only recently become accessible to Defendants in a usable format."
Price is accused of taking more than $900,000 in bribes from mostly technology firms seeking Dallas County contracts. Fain and Nealy are accused of helping him get and hide the ill-gotten gains.
All three have pleaded not guilty.
A fourth defendant in the case, Christian Campbell, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and is expected to testify for the government. Campbell served as a consultant for businesses seeking contracts with the county and admitted to helping funnel money to Price.
Price and the others were indicted in July 2014.
FBI agents served search warrants on Price and others in June 2011.