Alexandria special prosecutor Edward J. White, having twice failed to get convictions in the highly publicized bribery and illegal gambling trials of Commonwealth's Attorney William L. Cowhig, has asked that the last remaining charge be tried without a jury.
In pretrial motions filed this week, White also said that if his request for a bench trial is denied, he will ask that jurors be selected from outside of Alexandria.
Cowhig, 53, is scheduled to stand trial March 5 in Alexandria Circuit Court on allegations of illegal gambling in connection with the city's bingo scandal.
Because of the publicity surrounding the two earlier Cowhig trials, White said yesterday, "I wouldn't say the [Alexandria] jurors would be biased, but perhaps more knowledgable than they should be."
Jurors interviewed after the bribery and gambling trials in December and January said the credibility of prosecution witnesses was a key factor in Cowhig's acquittals.
Cowhig has stepped aside from his duties pending the resolution of the criminal charges brought against him. He continues to receive his $42,500 annual salary.
Earlier this week, Acting Common-wealth's Attorney John E. Kloch and four of the six assistant prosecutors in Cowhig's office threatened to resign if the embattled prosecutor does not resign. Cowhig refused to comment.
White will argue his motions in Manassas today before Prince William Circuit Court Judge Percy Thornton Jr. Thornton was appointed to hear the Cowhig cases after all three Alexandria Circuit judges disqualified themselves.
James Clark, one of Cowhig's two lawyers, said yesterday the defense would not waive its right to a jury trial. Clark also said the defense would argue against bringing in jurors "from God knows where" because of the expense.
But White said yesterday, "It's cheaper to bring 12 jurors here than to pick up and move the trial somewhere else."