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In Sansom case, prosecutor Meggs goes on trial

Former House Speaker Ray Sansom and his two co-defendants were back in court today, but the focus of the hearing is Willie Meggs, the outspoken state attorney who's prosecuting the case. Meggs has been the elected state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit for 25 years.

Lawyers for all three defendants want Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to dismiss grand theft charges and have Meggs removed from the case because of prosecutorial misconduct, including illegally releasing witnesses' grand jury testimony to reporters and improper questioning of witnesses before grand jurors.

"This is really hard for us, professionally," said Jimmy Judkins, the attorney for Destin developer Jay Odom. "We've had personal relations with Mr. Meggs for 30 years, some of us."

Meggs declined to make an opening statement, and Hank Coxe, the attorney for former Northwest College State College President Bob Richburg, called Meggs as a witness. Sansom's lawyer, Steve Dobson, said the hearing could last for as much as six hours.

Sansom, Odom and Richburg face a felony charge of illegally using tax money from the Legislature to build a college building that Meggs says was to have been used as a hangar for Odom's executive jet business. All three men have denied wrongdoing.

-- Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau