Monday, October 20, 2008

Last Chance: More on the Defense's Likely Closing Argument

Live from the Ted Stevens Trial, between Day 19 and Day 20

Washington, D.C.—

In addition to what this blog has already predicted regarding the closings, two points stand out as probable for the defense in the final argument tomorrow:

1. Where’s Rocky?

Lead defense lawyer Brendan Sullivan is sure to point out that much of the prosecution’s case rests on the work Rocky Williams provided in the remodeling of the Stevens chalet—work that Williams did on the VECO payroll that the Stevenses never paid for.

But due to either his illness or a questionable decision by the prosecution, Williams never testified at the trial. Sullivan will cite that non-testimony as a failure of the prosecution’s proof. The jury can only convict Stevens if it finds him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and Stevens’ lawyer will argue that the government’s failure to produce Williams creates reasonable doubt all by itself.

2. Nullify this Mouse

Sullivan will have to be careful with this argument, but the wily attorney will probably find some way to suggest that in bringing these charges of non-disclosure that the government has spent too much money chasing too small a case. If the prosecution could prove bribery or the acceptance of illegal gratuities, Sullivan could hint, the prosecution should have done so. Instead, Sullivan may suggest, the government has brought a Mickey Mouse case which amounts at worst to mistaken paperwork over such things as the value of a dog. Sullivan would want the jury to think that these allegations should be in front of the Senate Ethics Committee, not a jury in a criminal trial. For Stevens’ attorney, it would be great if the jury decided that no matter what the law says, the jury should nullify the law by refusing to convict based on what he would portray as at most paperwork screw-ups by a very busy and dedicated public servant.

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