ACORN trial postponed from April to July

The trial for ACORN, a national grass-roots community organizing group, has been postponed to July, a District Court judge ruled Wednesday.

ACORN and co-defendant Amy Busefink face 13 felony charges on allegations they authorized a Las Vegas field operative to run an illegal voter-registration incentive program during the 2008 election cycle that used cash to encourage workers to register voters.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also had an illegal quota policy that forced workers to register a certain number of people per shift or face termination, authorities allege.

Defense attorneys requested the delay because scheduling conflicts with the original April 19 date.

Prosecutors argued to Judge Donald Mosley that the request was a tactic meant to disrupt the state attorney general's case: One of the state's witnesses, who is in jail, will be released by July and might be difficult to find.

Busefink's attorney, Kevin Stolworthy, on Wednesday said he plans on filing in the coming weeks a motion to sever the two cases. He also plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing the law used to prosecute the case is unconstitutional.

Nevada law states it is "unlawful for a person to provide compensation for registering voters that is based upon the total number of voters a person registers."

The field operative who created and ran the incentive program, Christopher Edwards, is serving three years of probation after pleading guilty to two gross misdemeanors. As part of a plea deal Edwards must testify against ACORN and Busefink.

Defense attorneys for ACORN and Busefink have maintained their clients' innocence and said they had ordered Edwards not to run the incentive program.

ACORN is charged with 13 counts of compensation for registration of voters. Busefink faces 13 counts of aiding the compensation for registration of voters.

Busefink faces mandatory probation if convicted. As an organization, ACORN can be fined a maximum of $5,000 per count if found guilty.