The impeachment trial of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher in the State Senate is set to begin Sept. 27, 2004, earlier than previously expected. Meeting Sept. 14 to lay the groundwork for the trial, senators decided on the Sept. 27 date in order to have plenty of time to finish the trial before Nov. 16, when the current legislature expires.
Previously, Oct. 4 had been mentioned as a possible start date for the trial.
The trial will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.
That date “will give both the defense and the prosecution time to prepare,” explained Charlie Laster, judiciary chairman designate for the State Senate, in a statement released by the Senate Communications Office. “The morning of the 27th will be set aside for motions if there need to be any heard, but we expect to be ready to start promptly at 1:30 on September 27th.”
The House Board of Managers, who will serve as prosecutors, officially presented the Senate with the five articles of impeachment approved by the House last week.
“We formally accepted those articles with the approval of Senate Resolution 1. We also formally organized as a court with the adoption of Senate Resolution 2 which details the rules for conducting the trial,” Laster said.
During the Sept. 14 session, the officers of the court were given an oath of office, including State Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph M. Watt who will serve as presiding officer of the court, as well as members of the Senate.
“The Senate does sit as a court of impeachment, so the members of the Senate are the court. We have a presiding officer who handles procedure, but basically the Senate will be the jury and make the final determination whether or not the commissioner should be removed from office.”
Although concerns have been raised as to whether the trial could be completed by Nov. 16, the last day in office for some members of the legislature, Sen. Laster was confident that the trial would be concluded in a timely way.
“By starting on September 27th I am very confident that we will be done and we will fulfill our constitutional requirements well in advance of November 16th.”
Audio from the State Senate proceedings can be heard live on the Internet by going to www.oksenate.gov and selecting the live audio link on the homepage.
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