Whitewater witness David Hale asked a Supreme Court justice yesterday to block his trial in Arkansas state court on charges of lying to insurance regulators.
In an emergency petition filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, Hale's lawyers said a plea agreement and immunity granted to him by federal Whitewater prosecutors should protect him against prosecution in the state case.
Hale is scheduled to go on trial, starting Wednesday, in Arkansas state court on charges of filing a false or misleading statement with the state insurance department about an insurance company the state says he owned.
"This prosecution is in direct violation of the plea and immunity agreement" reached in March 1994 by Hale and then-Whitewater special prosecutor Robert Fiske, Hale's lawyers argued to Thomas. Hale also contends the state charges amount to political payback for his cooperation with Fiske's successor, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
Hale's lawyers submitted a copy of a Jan. 25, 1996, letter from Starr to a Little Rock police official that said, "It would be highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for a state prosecutor to initiate separate criminal charges against an individual cooperating in an important federal investigation."
Hale's testimony in 1996 helped convict President Clinton's former Whitewater business partners, James B. and Susan McDougal, as well as then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.
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