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Bruno trial moving forward, but start date could be delayed

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Albany/HV: Bruno trial moving forward, but start date could be delayed
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A re-trial for former State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno appears to be moving forward, but its actual start date could be delayed. Our Solomon Syed sat in on a conference with Bruno's defense team, federal prosecutors and the judge. He's standing by with the latest on this developing story.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- This trial could very well be delayed. And there's a remote possibility it might not even happen at all.

Joe Bruno's legal team marched into federal court Wednesday for a pre-trial conference. During that hearing, YNN learned Bruno's re-trial might be delayed. His lawyers are involved in an unrelated case that could bleed into the February 4th start date.

"But I also don't think you'd see a very lengthy delay in this case, in any event," legal analyst Paul DerOhanessian said.

Instead, DerOhanessian says the small, but important, details discussed at Wednesday's meeting indicate the former Republican State Senate Majority Leader still plans to fight it out in court and not strike a plea deal.

DerOhanessian said, "These are the final steps, just before a trial."

One of those steps involves finalizing the questionnaire jurors get when they're brought in for selection. Now that a question about jurors contributing to Bruno's defense fund has been removed, it's essentially ready to go.

"There are people that know that individual, that have benefited in some way, that have a special connection," DerOhanessian said.

Which is what got Bruno in trouble in the first place.
Bruno now faces two felony fraud counts under the new law. The re-trial's expected to last only two to three weeks.

"Much shorter than the first one because there's fewer charges than the first one and also because when a case is re-tried, both sides have a better handle on what's important," DerOhanessian said.

One important item that wasn't resolved Wednesday: Bruno's request to have the case dismissed. His 2009 conviction was tossed on appeal last November, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2010 limited the honest services fraud statute. Prosecutors must now prove bribery or kickbacks for a conviction. Judge Sharpe granted his legal team more time to respond to the government's motion to have the re-trial proceed as planned.

DerOhanessian said, "That is an important issue yet to be decided by the court in this case."

Bruno's defense team has until November 26th to issue his reply. But, as of now, it looks like all sides are preparing like they'll be in court for jury selection sometime in February.

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