Is Collins Trying to Sweep Indictment Under the Political Rug?

Attorney says such excused absences are common in cases like the congressman's

Tom Puckett
October 11, 2018 - 4:00 am

FILE - This Aug. 8, 2018 file photo shows Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins as he leaves federal court in New York. In an about-face, Collins says he will suspend his re-election campaign after insider-trading indictment. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) A judge recently excused Congressman Chris Collins from being required to attend a status hearing on his case on insider trading charges. One political strategist says he doesn't believe it is a case of sweeping things under the rug.

Carl Calabrese says there's no way Collins could if he wanted to. "This has been a page one story since it was announced, and it's going to stay that way, and his constituents are aware of it," says Calabrese. "It's there, he's dealing with it upfront, and obviously comfortable moving forward with this issue and thinks he can prevail with it." 

Calabrese says expect Collins to continue to proclaim his innocence as he moves on in the campaign, and the trial, which is expected to begin after the election.

Attorney Barry Covert says judges excusing defendants from appearing for such matters is common. "There aren't going to be any arguments of legal bearing. There won't be a factual hearing. Judges will routinely waive that defendant's appearance, especially if they're from out of town," says Covert. The next big day will be when oral arguments are held on defense motions to dismiss charges or suppress evidence and statements. 

Covert says being excused may help Collins a bit. "Given the election coming up, Mr. Collins doesn't want the optics of walking into a federal courthouse for a criminal case. I'm sure he is very agreeable to having his presence waived for political purposes, but this request would be routinely granted by most federal judges when there's an out of town defendant," says Covert. 

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