Burris Bribery Trial Delayed Again

Burris Bribery Trial Delayed Again
Former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson has admitted taking bribes from Dr. Ben Burris, charges for which Burris has pleaded not guilty. (Composite photo illustration)

Once again, there’s a new trial date set in the case of Dr. Ben Burris, the former Fayetteville orthodontist who is charged with bribing former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.

Burris’ trial is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Oct. 4 in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, more than two years after he was indicted.

The trial was supposed to have commenced on Oct. 13, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks. But COVID-19 derailed that plan. The trial was later reset for June 21.

In February, Burris asked for a continuance based on “recent events,” according to a court filing. We’re not sure the reason behind the request for the delay, because all those documents were filed under seal.

Burris’ request was granted.

The trial is expected to last at least four weeks. Burris, who now lives in Florida, has pleaded not guilty. He is facing 14 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

Burris is being represented by Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and has more than 270 attorneys in three states; the global firm Ropes & Gray; and the Wilkinson Law Firm of Bentonville. Attorney Bruce Singal of Boston was added to Burris’ defense team last year.

Burris is being prosecuted jointly by the U.S. attorney’s office in Fort Smith and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section.

Hutchinson, a lawyer and nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has already admitted receiving bribes from Burris, but no date for sentencing him has been set.