Family, attorneys react to "Clay Eight" vote-buying convictions being overturned

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MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT) - Update, 7/17/13, 11 p.m.

Eight people convicted in a Clay County vote-buying conspiracy may soon leave prison.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday overturned the convictions of the "Clay Eight" and ruled they all deserve new trials.

Former Circuit Judge Cletus Maricle and former Superintendent Doug Adams were among the eight convicted in March 2010.

"I was very glad to see the court of appeals agreed with a lot of the arguments we made in the trial court.," said attorney David Hoskins, who represented Maricle during the trial. "The court of appeals agreed with the defense that all the evidence of people being involved in drug dealing was not relevant to what was charged in this case."

Hoskins said the jury should not have heard the evidence related to drug-dealing - and the appeals court agreed.

"It makes us feel like we were right all along in a lot of this," he said. "And we feel like with a new trial without all that irrelevant evidence that it'd be a different result."

The government has 20 days to seek a review of the decision.

The people convicted can ask to be released from prison since their convictions have been overturned. But the government could still re-try them on the charges related to vote-buying and racketeering.

"The sixth circuit did agree that the errors in the trial taken together were of such a cumulative effect that it denied the defendants a fair trial," said attorney Kent Westberry, who represented Adams.

Adams' family released this statement: "We are ecstatic about the opportunity for him to come home, but we are waiting to celebrate until he is actually home. We will now wait on the next step in the process."

Others convicted in the case include former County clerk Freddy Thompson, former magistrate Stanley Bowling, Democratic Election Commissioner Charles Wayne Jones, election officer William Stivers and garage owners Bart and Debra Morris.

"We are reviewing the court's opinion and will carefully consider how best to proceed with this prosecution," U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey said in a statement.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A federal appeals court has overturned the convictions of eight southeastern Kentucky people sent to prison for taking part in what prosecutors described as a massive vote buying scheme.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered new trials for former Clay County Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle, former school superintendent Doug Adams and six other defendants.

Judge Karen Nelson Moore ruled that U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves allowed jurors to hear some evidence that should not have been admitted and erred in his handling of transcripts of secret tape recordings that an informant made during the FBI investigation.

Prosecutors argued that the group conspired to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy votes in one of the nation's poorest counties in 2002, 2004 and 2006.


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