Former Republican Sen. Jon Woods, serving an 18-year federal sentence in a public corruption case, has filed arguments with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for a new trial.

A 34-page brief by his attorney, John Wesley Hall, appeals federal Judge Timothy Brooks’ denial of a motion for a new trial. The 8th Circuit has already affirmed Woods’ original conviction.

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This proceeding for post-conviction relief turns on Woods’ argument that he was denied information before his trial that could have helped him. Specifically, his conviction in a bribery/kickback scheme turned in part on the government’s argument that Christina Mitchell, Woods’ future wife, was hired by a recipient of a state grant as a kickback to Woods. Woods says the FBI learned from former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson before trial that he had vetted Mitchell and that she was qualified. This information wasn’t shared with Woods. He also says the FBI coerced Hutchinson to violate his attorney-client privilege with lobbyist Rusty Cranford to get information. Hutchinson and Cranford both ultimately pleaded guilty to participating in corrupt schemes. Cranford is serving his sentence. Hutchinson has not yet been sentenced.

Woods says that he should have been able to call Hutchinson as a witness and that he might have information favorable to him. The government contends any information Hutchinson had would only further implicate Woods, not be exculpatory.

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Judge Brooks dismissed Woods’ arguments without a hearing. The appeal brief says a hearing should at least be held on arguments that Woods’ right to a fair trial was violated by information withheld by the government.

Woods has been in federal prison since September 2018.

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