DALLAS—Former Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill says, "I feel fine, I feel great, I got my lawyer here, he's in power he's ready we're ready for this day."
Answering a few reporter questions in spite of a gag order, a confident Don Hill made his way to federal court this morning. He's facing charges of bribery and extortion.
Hill, Planning Commissioner D'angelo Lee and state representative Terri Hodge are accused of receiving bribes in exchange for using their influence to get approval for housing developer Brain Potashnik to build low income housing developments. Developments that qualified for a federal tax break.
Potashnik , who's at the center of this corruption scandal, did not show up in court today - leading former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe to speculate a deal may have been cut as late as yesterday.
Ratcliffe says, "If a defendant reaches a plea agreement with the government ,one of the requirements is that the pleading defendant cooperate fully with the government , and provide a full de-briefing of anything and everything relating to the underlying transactions that can be particularly damaging for the remaining defendants."
Hill and his wife listened as potential jurors answered questions. The pool of jurors was so big there wasn't enough room in the courtroom for spectators. Reporters even the sketch artists were asked to leave.
Jury consultant Jason Bloom says, "The attorneys on both sides will ask more open ended questions such as how many of you out there feel that public officials do a good job or do a bad job."
He adds, attorneys want to know juror's feelings about everything from real estate development to public officials. "How is a particular jury member going to expect their public officials to behave in the community that's what's really on trial here is the conduct and the activity of public officials."
Jury selection continues tomorrow.