Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thunder's Rolling Down the Tracks: Additional Information on Trial Pace and Scheduling

Live from the Ted Stevens Trial, Day 16--Part One

Washington, D.C.--

The pace of this trial is wild for the lawyers, if not for the jury. The jury spent substantial blocks of time yesterday waiting outside the courtroom while the attorneys argued about what evidence could come in, but some of the same things that make the citizens twiddle their thumbs make the lawyers go at a killer pace.

The velocity of this trial for the attorneys is as about as unrelenting as the final days of a legislative session or a political campaign. As one candidate said, you know you’re in a flat-out campaign if you find yourself sitting on a bed holding a sock in your hand and you can’t remember whether you’re getting up or going to sleep.

In this trial, motions—well-researched and well-written legal papers designed to convince a judge of a legal proposition—fly back and forth late at night and throughout the weekends. Last-minute changes in strategy require even more last-minute preparation of witnesses. Final arguments get rewritten over and over again to reflect new insights and unexpected turns in the testimony. Yesterday morning, the judge ordered one pleading to be filed no later than last night at 8 p.m. and any response to be submitted no later than 6 a.m. this morning. For the lawyers, this trial is sort of like Jack Bauer’s life on the TV show “24” if the program ran as a month-long festival and the protagonists didn’t have to worry about getting shot or blown up.

All this is preface to me saying that I forgot to add in my last post that it looks like the defense will call no more than five additional witnesses. After we finish with the cross-examination of contractor Augie Paone, those five will include two short witnesses preceding Ted Stevens’ friend Bob Persons, his wife Catherine Stevens, and perhaps the Senator himself. The prosecution has indicated that it has at least three witnesses to present in rebuttal of the defendant’s case.

If Ted Stevens testifies, he will spend a lot of time on the stand. The defense has listed 205 exhibits that he will testify about—104 of the defense’s and 101 of the prosecution’s.

Hat tip to Bruce Springsteen’s “Land of Hope and Dreams” for the first part of this post’s title.


marxlaw said...

Hey Cliff, I'm thinking of catching the action this Friday, taking the red eye out of seattle Thursday night. Sounds like I'm sure to catch some action...and I may even stay through Monday.... don't imagine closings will be by then eh? Is there seating room? How easy is it to get in? Can you do a post about directions to the courthouse? I'll be staying off Connecticut ave by the National Zoo.... ;-) Best, Brandon

marxlaw said...

I may head out on Sunday too. When do you predict closing arguments will be given? Hard to guess I'm sure.....