Crucial email not protected by marriage privilege, Judge Tuchi rules in Pierce bribery case

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

Jurors will get to see what could prove a critical email that prosecutors say should help prove that Gary Pierce purposely sought to conceal a land deal at

John Tuchi speaks at a State Bar of Arizona event in Phoenix in October 2011.

the center of a bribery case.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi has rejected arguments by defense attorneys that an email between Kelly Norton and her then-husband Jim is protected by marital privilege. His ruling makes it admissible.

What makes the email significant is it originated with Pierce, who at the time was a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. In that role he voted on several matters involving Johnson Utilities.

Federal prosecutors contend that company owner George Johnson was going to pay for Pierce to buy a 3.5-acre property he wanted in east Mesa for a car dealership. But the plan, according to the government, was to conceal the true buyer.

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