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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2007
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Jury selection Monday in Huckaby sex trial

DECATUR (AP) — Jury selection begins Monday in a federal trial for 68-year-old Gary Huckaby, a prominent media lawyer and former Alabama State Bar president from Huntsville.

He’s accused of illegal sexual contact and indecent exposure on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is federal property so the trial is being held in U.S. District Court, with Judge L. Scott Coogler presiding. Huckaby, who was indicted in September, has pleaded not guilty to the two-count indictment and maintains his innocence.

“We have waited patiently for this day,” Huckaby’s lawyer, J. Mark White of Birmingham, told The Birmingham News for a story Sunday. “We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to stand in front of a jury and have them realize that we are not guilty.”

Federal authorities said they conducted an undercover sweep at the 34,500-acre refuge in response to complaints that men meet there for illicit sexual encounters. The indictment accuses Huckaby of intentionally touching, through clothing, an undercover refuge officer without permission.

If convicted on the sexual contact charge, Huckaby could be sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The indecent exposure charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Last month, a jury needed just 35 minutes to convict Walter E. Brannan, 48, of Decatur of public indecency and public lewdness for exposing his genitals to a federal officer at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. His sentencing is pending.

In December, a jury acquitted another defendant charged in connection with the four-day Wheeler operation. Several defendants have pled guilty.

Huckaby’s clients have included Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated.

Huckaby defended the publisher and the magazine against a $20 million defamation suit filed by former Alabama football coach Mike Price.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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