Former lawmakers in court together; preliminary hearing adjourned

Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 18:24:07-04

LANSING, Mich. -- Former state lawmakers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat appeared in court Tuesday for their preliminary examination in Lansing. Judge Hugh Clarke said he plans to hear both of their cases simultaneously.

Both former state representatives face charges of misconduct in office for trying to hide an extramarital affair using state resources. Courser also faces a perjury charge for allegedly lying under oath at a House committee hearing.

Courser's attorney, Matt DePerno, motioned to dismiss today's preliminary examination. He said he hasn't had enough time to review the 35 hours of recorded testimony and 2,000 pages of documents submitted by the state attorney general's office as evidence against Courser. The judge granted the motion and rescheduled the hearing. However, all parties continued to discuss future business.

Judge Hugh Clarke and the attorney’s discussed what evidence would be submitted and some of the people who would testify. House Speaker Kevin Cotter's name came up as a possible witness to be subpoenaed by the defense. It was Cotter's leadership of the House investigation that led state Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan State Police to file charges.

"Really, this is a simple case," Gamrat's attorney, Mike Nichols told news media. "This is ... if everything they're going to put on the witness stand is true, are these crimes? We believe ultimately the answer is no."​

"It's sort of ridiculous,: Courser told news media. "They didn't find any misuse of state resources. We saw that, and now they've come back with these charges. You guys will print 'Courser: Four Charges.' That's how you do that. In reality, when you look at it, there's very little evidence of it."​

The defense also accuses the AG of being vague with allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Both defense attorneys want to know what exactly their clients did that's criminal and where's the evidence.

The preliminary hearings was rescheduled for March 25 and 26.