Jury selection begins in corruption trial

Federal corruption trial begins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A high profile federal trial began Monday. Two attorneys for the well-known Birmingham law firm of Balch and Bingham as well as a top executive with Drummond Coal are on trial. They are accused of working in a conspiracy to bribe former Representative Oliver Robinson so he would work against expanding a Superfund cleanup site in north Birmingham.

Jury selection got underway Monday for the corruption trial of Drummond Coal executive David Roberson, Balch and Bingham attorneys Steven McKinney and Joel Gilbert.

Former Birmingham Representative Oliver Robinson has already pled guilty to taking $360,000, allegedly from the men in a bribery scheme.

"In cases like this that are very complicated and complex, a lot of times it's going to revolve around what documents the government can present," said attorney and legal analyst Roger Appell.

These documents should include emails and checks of donations to Robinson's foundation.

Appell said he expects the defense to make a case that these types of donations are made in Montgomery all the time. "We were upfront with it. Everyone knew what we were doing. We did not violate any laws. If Oliver Robinson did something wrong, that is his problem, not ours," Appell said.

At some point, Robinson - who is awaiting sentencing in his case - will testify in the case. "I believe the jury is going to take his testimony with a grain of salt. Here is a guy that has pled guilty, is trying to save himself, is trying to get a lesser sentence,"  Appell said.

Jury selection may wrap up Tuesday. Appell expects the case will go for about a month. Robinson may not testify until next week.

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