The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed 11 of 12 felony ethics convictions of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard in a unanimous decision on Monday.
In the court's main opinion, Judge Samuel Welch wrote that the evidence was "sufficient" for the jury to determine Hubbard's guilt in all but one count, rejecting Hubbard's defense of many counts that turned on the meaning of "pays full value" in the Alabama code.
In a concurring opinion, Judge Michael Joiner wrote that the main opinion "correctly applies this provision according to its plain meaning."
The opinion did raise an issue with vagueness in several definitions in Alabama's ethics law, most specifically in how a "principal" and "employee" are defined in the statute and whether "a person holding a position in a business outside its immediate leadership hierarchy is a principal."
"Several of the 34 definitions ... could be better defined by the legislature, and may be vague as to which persons, businesses, or acts fall within its scope," wrote Welch in the opinion's conclusion. "We strongly encourage the legislature to consider amending the law to better circumscribe the class of persons defined as principals."
The court reversed judgment on Count 5, which charged that Hubbard violated Alabama law by intentionally voting for legislation when he should have known that he had a conflict on interest.
Hubbard was indicted on 23 counts of using his office for personal gain in October 2014 after a lengthy grand-jury investigation and later convicted on 12 counts in May 2016 and sentenced to four years in prison. Hubbard appealed the convictions with the Court of Criminal Appeals in May 2017. Hubbard's next course of action would be to appeal the convictions to the Alabama Supreme Court.
Hubbard, who represented Auburn as the representative for House District 79 after bring elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1998, supported ethics reform that the Republican controlled legislature passed after taking over both houses in 2010.