Federal Magistrate Patricia Harris today said former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker was entitled to a court-appointed lawyer in the bribery case against him because of financial circumstances. She named Blake Hendrix to represent Baker, who’ll make an initial appearance in court next week.
Baker is accused of participating in a conspiracy to bribe then-Circuit Judge Mike Maggio to reduce a jury damage award (by $4.2 million) in a nursing home negligence case. Maggio is serving a 10-year term. The bribe allegedly took the form of campaign contributions Baker arranged from the owner of the nursing home, Michael Morton. Morton admits making campaign contributions to Maggio and many other judges, but said no action by Maggio was anticipated in return. He has not been charged.
Baker has worked as a lobbyist and political consultant and retains tenure as a music faculty member at UCA. The judge said in today’s order:
Based upon the completed affidavit or testimony of defendant Gilbert R Baker, concerning their financial ability to employ counsel, Gilbert R Baker is entitled to counsel, but cannot afford to hire a private lawyer.
The order today was preceded this week by several filings under seal in Baker’s case, including his financial affidavit.