Former Rhode Island state Senate President William Irons, facing civil conflict-of-interest charges before the state Ethics Commission, wants a jury to hear his case.
The ethics panel typically conducts a trial-like hearing to determine if a person has violated the state ethics code.
Katherine D’Arezzo, an attorney for the commission who is prosecuting the case, said she believed it was the first time anyone had asked to replace the commission hearing with a jury trial.
“I don’t believe they have the right to a jury trial,” D’Arrezzo said.
The commission voted last month to reject a settlement that D’Arezzo had negotiated with Irons’ lawyer, John Tarantino, who is now requesting that the case be moved to Superior Court and put before a judge and a jury.
“We believe there’s a very good argument that he’s entitled to a trial by jury,” Tarantino said.
Irons, an East Providence Democrat and insurance agent, resigned from the General Assembly in 2004 amid questions about his role as a broker on a CVS employee health-insurance policy from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
An ethics complaint filed by Operation Clean Government, a government watchdog group, accused Irons of having a conflict-of-interest and of using his legislative office for financial gain.
D’Arezzo said she expected both sides to argue before the ethics commission on the demand for a jury trial. She said she assumed Irons would appeal if the commission turns down his request.
Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.projo.com/
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