The Arizona Supreme Court refused a request to dismiss charges against ousted Gov. Evan Mecham and his brother, clearing the way for opening statements in their criminal trial on campaign disclosure charges involving a $350,000 loan.

Less than two hours before the perjury and fraud trial was to begin, the state's highest court refused to consider defense claims that the grand jury that indicted the Mechams in January was misled and manipulated by the prosecutor.The Mechams are accused of concealing a $350,000 loan in the 1986 gubernatorial campaign on state financial-disclosure reports.

Evan Mecham, ousted as governor April 4 when the Senate convicted him of two articles of impeachment, is charged with three counts of perjury, two counts of willful concealment and one count of filing a false statement.

Willard Mecham, treasurer of the 1986 campaign, is charged with one count each of perjury, willful concealment and filing a false statement.

If convicted, the ex-governor faces more than 20 years in prison.

Defense attorneys made a last attempt to delay the trial Wednesday, arguing before the high court that a trial judge and the state Court of Appeals erred in denying motions to remand the case to the grand jury.

As the ex-governor's lawyer, Michael Scott, left the Supreme Court hearing, he said, "Quite truthfully, I think this is the last stopping spot. I hope we get some relief. If not, I don't see any delays."

The Mecham brothers sat side-by-side in the front row of the courtroom during Wednesday's arguments. They declined comment as they left.