BUFFALO - If you've played Jenga, you can understand a portion of the legal defense strategy for Democratic political operative Steve Pigeon: pull apart the foundation and the whole thing may come tumbling down.
Pigeon was indicted in July on nine counts including bribery for alleged favor-trading with then-State Supreme Court Judge John Michalek. One day earlier Michalek resigned from the bench and pled guilty to accepting a bribe.
These parallel cases were the first to come out of the search of Pigeon's Buffalo waterfront condo back in May of 2015.
A key element in the case are emails between Michalek and Pigeon which the prosecution says outlines the conspiracy to trade favors and information.
Monday, in a motion hearing before Judge Donald Cerio, Pigeon's defense team challenged the legality of the warrant. Because if it can undo the warrant some -- maybe all -- of the evidence gets eliminated, and opens the possibility the case could be dismissed.
The warrant itself was amended the day of the search. Copies of the document show originally, the warrants targeted Pigeon's residence on the 7th floor of the Admiral's Walk condominium tower. Hours before the search warrant was to be executed, it was rushed back before a judge to change it to Pigeon's actual home on the 10th floor of the building.
Former Superintendent of State Police Major Crimes Unit says that while Erie County Court Judge Michael Petrushka signed off on the amended search warrant, there was no known written record of why or how the change was approved.
At the end of today's hearing, defense attorney Paul Cambria announced he would be submitting a brief wrapping up why he thought the warrant was defective. A response in writing by the prosecution team is due in late December. Cerio's ruling is expected after the new year.