Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez made his case to overturn the corruption charges that ultimately forced him out of office three years ago.
Perez appeared in court Tuesday and was accompanied by friends, family members and well-known attorney Hubie Santos at the state appellate court Tuesday morning.
At court, the defense and the prosecution each get 20 minutes to make their arguments and answer questions, and that's it.
It all ended pretty fast.
Perez said the fact that two corruption cases against him were combined into one for the sake of saving court resources ended up with the jury being prejudiced against him.
He argued that's because testimony heard in the one case may have impacted the way the jury judged him in the other.
"All of this was thrown at the jury in one sitting and you know by the time we got up to present our defense," Santos said. "We were pretty well cooked, so to speak."
Perez's attorney added that a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court buffers their argument against joining the two cases.
But the attorney for the prosecution Harry Weeler said that would mean a whole bunch of cases would then have to be overturned, and it didn't matter anyway because the state believes the Perez jury was able to separate the two cases against the former mayor.
"You've got a high-profile defendant. You're selecting from a jury pool where that defendant was mayor of the largest town," Weller said. "You have the possibility, if they're separate trials once one verdict comes in, if it's a guilty verdict, picking a jury in a second case."
In 2010, Perez was found guilty by a jury of both bribery and extortion after police said he took a $20,000 bribe for kitchen and bath improvements from a city contractor.
The charges ultimately forced him to resign from office.
He could face three years in jail if the conviction is not overturned.
The three-judge panel also pointed out it if it overturned Perez's convictions, it would have to overturn a number of others decided before the recent state Supreme Court ruling on combining cases.
A decision on the Perez appeal could take weeks, or even months.
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