Rep. Pat Swindall (R-Ga.) gave up any hope of a pre-election verdict in his perjury trial Wednesday when a judge dismissed the jury because the congressman had mailed campaign literature mentioning the case.
U.S. District Judge Robert Vining made it clear that there would be no further attempt to seat a jury before the Nov. 8 election. The 12 jurors and two alternates were excused before hearing any arguments or testimony.
In addition, Vining rejected a request by the two-term Republican to proceed with a non-jury trial, in which the judge renders the verdict.
No Regrets on Mailings
“I’m disappointed,” Swindall said, but he expressed no regrets about the campaign mailings, one of which included his claim that he had passed a private polygraph test about his truthfulness.
The government contends that an agent posing as a money broker told Swindall that an $850,000 home mortgage the congressman was seeking might be drug money. Prosecutors said Swindall lied in telling a grand jury that he did not remember such a warning.
The judge, in dismissing the jury, cited two pieces of campaign literature that he said could have reached potential jurors. He said also that he wants authorities to investigate whether Swindall, who is representing himself, violated court rules governing the comments lawyers may make about their cases.
Trial Difficulty Cited
“It became apparent this morning that it would be extremely difficult for you to try a case during a political campaign when one of the parties is involved in the campaign,” Vining told the jurors.
Swindall is locked in a reelection fight with Democrat Ben Jones, a former actor who played Cooter on television’s “Dukes of Hazzard.”