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Speaker Chatfield to testify at Rep. Inman's criminal trial

Michigan House of Representatives
Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering)

The speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) will testify at Rep. Larry Inman’s (R-Williamsburg) criminal trial next week, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Chatfield and Inman exchanged text messages throughout the time period last year that Inman allegedly tried to sell his vote on Michigan's prevailing wage law.

"Now I need (huge) help with Door help and s*** load of money. I am losing construction, nurses, and teachers that have voted for me. I have a Dem hitting doors since April, this vote put me in a s*** hole," one text from Inman to Chatfield reads.

Prosecutors want Chatfield to testify on Inman's fundraising practices and state of mind during his alleged crimes. But in a motion filed earlier this month, Chatfield's attorneys argued that he couldn't be pulled from the Michigan House, which is in session on Tuesday, Dec. 3, the day the trial is set to begin. 

"Forcing the Speaker to attend trial would prevent the Speaker from fulfilling his official duties at a time when critical legislation needs to be acted on and funding deficiencies addressed," their motion reads.

Inman's and Chatfield's attorneys also argued that the speaker's testimony wouldn't be relevant to the case, but Federal Judge Robert Jonker squashed all that in an order.

"As for logistical concerns, the court will make every effort to avoid interfering with the speaker's legislative duties," the order reads. "After reviewing all matters of record, including the government's summary of topics upon which it expects to question the speaker, the court is satsified the speaker's testimony is important to any jury's evaluation of the issues."

Inman will go to trial on Tuesday, December 3 on charges of soliciting a bribe, extortion and lying to to the FBI. He has plead not guilty to all charges.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.