Friday, July 06, 2007

USA vs Tom Anderson Day 9

U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
Court Calendar for Friday, July 6, 2007

9:00 AM 3:06-CR-00099-JWS Judge Sedwick Anchorage Courtroom 3

Nicolas Marsh was already into his closing argument as I walked into the 75% full courtroom at 9:15 this morning. Having apparently listened closely to the defense these last couple of days, he was hammering hard on the idea that Anderson didn't believe the Prewitt money was going for legislative acts. He played tapes of Anderson that sure looked like he knew what was going on. (My quotes will be as close as I could get taking notes during the trial. The exact words my not be right, but the meaning should be correct.)

Anderson: "Frank [Prewitt] is my employer through Bill [Bobrick]"

Anderson: "Quit the bullshit on the banner thing." [That Cornell was buying banner ads on the website] Then talking about ads at an Anchorage Aces Hockey game, "Who's gonna buy a prison from the audience?"

Anderson: "Put together a strategy and I'll be the Lieutenant. You get me the script and I'll walk it."

Anderson: "I'm not a fucking idiot, you're not just doing it [paying Pacific Publications] to help me."

Anderson: Talking about Bobrick's plan to set up a Website Journal Company and have Prewitt pay for banner ads on the website and have that money go to Anderson "It's perfect. The best idea he's [Bobrick] come up with and it looks like it's working."

Anderson: "APOC [Alaska Public Offices Commission] only needs to know Bill [Bobrick] pays me, then we're always safe."

Then Marsh shows slides of checks paid to Anderson.

It went on like that as he picked out tapes or documents that showed many of the points Defense Attorney Stockler had tried to make sound ambiguous or totally non-existent. (He'd said things like, "You can't show me a single instance where Anderson ..." and Marsh was showing instance after instance.
Marsh reminded me a little of Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker persona. Kind of wonky, going through the evidence in a very methodical way, until I started to glaze over thinking, "Enough already, I get the point." He even looks a little like him.

Although the judge had said he would go over the Jury Instructions, Marsh did some of that himself. He particularly, I think, wanted to make the point that it doesn't matter if the person being bribed would have done those actions anyway as part of his job. This is an important point because Stockler has made this a big part of his argument - that Tom Anderson helped people out and would have done all this stuff [at other points Stockler said he didn't do anything] without the payments. And despite the jury instructions, this was still a big part of Stockler's closing statement.

Finally Marsh attacked Stockler's argument that Anderson had concealed the source of the money purely for political reasons, not because the deal was illegal. Basically, Stockler had argued in the trial that Anderson didn't want people from the prison unions to know he was getting money from Cornell. (Isn't one reason for disclosure so that voters know where you stand on issues?) Marsh had a list of 11 situations when or people to whom Anderson could have disclosed this relationship. The last one was Lesil McGuire, whom Marsh identified as Anderson's romantic interest. (She was a fellow legislator and is now his wife.) "He didn't tell Lesil," said Marsh, "because he knew she would have said, 'What are you doing? This is illegal. You can't do this.'" I was sitting right behind Lesil in the courtroom. She sat very still during this, but I couldn't help imagining what might possible be going through her mind? And here Marsh ended his closing argument.

Stockler presented quite a contrast. While Marsh looks like he hasn't been outside in years, Stockler looks like he just got back from a beach vacation. Marsh has those clean cut Tobey Mcquire looks, Stockler's head is shaved and he looks like someone who breaks your knees if you don't pay your debts. It struck me yesterday when he was putting on the defense's case, when he had to go out of the courtroom to escort in the defense's witnesses, that he is the Lone Ranger here on this case. In contrast, two attorneys and FBI Agent Kepner have been sitting at the Prosecutor's table, two technicians sit behind them running all the fancy video and audio equipment that made the tapes and transcripts as easy to follow as possible - given the bad sound quality of much of it. Plus there are four or five other people who back them up, including the woman who has been escorting in the Prosecution's witnesses into court. Today that contrast came out again after Marsh used his high tech audio/visual replaying of the tapes to punctuate his closing argument and Stockler stood there with his wooden easel and poster board charts. But Stockler started out looking into the eyes of the jurors and his presentation was much more a story than the prosecutor's methodical, logical exercise. But he couldn't pull it off for the whole hour. He too had a book that he went back and referred to. But Stockler appeared to be talking from the heart while Marsh was talking from the head.

Maybe it was because the facts weren't in Stockler's favor. He started with probably the most compelling argument, that Prewitt was the man under investigation and that Anderson's name just happened to come up while the FBI was investigating Prewitt. Prewitt was hoping that bagging a legislator would reduce whatever penalties he faced. Stockler belittled Prewitt's claim that anything the FBI had on him was either too old to prosecute or it was minor. Then he went after Bobrick. Though the way he characterized Bobrick's answers didn't completely square with what I heard. He said that when he asked Bobrick if the Website business was real, Bobrick answered yes. Well, I heard Bobrick qualify that by saying for a while it was, but part of me knew it wasn't. Bobrick had said several times he was in denial about what he was doing. I can't help but imagine that a few of the jurors might have heard it that way too and how this might affect their opinion of Stockler. While I thought the evidence was there to show that Anderson knew what was going on, there is no question in my mind that he also was in some ways a victim of Prewitt's cunning and Bobrick's fantasies. Stockler again mentioned that neither Prewitt nor Bobrick told Anderson that "yes, we're paying you to use your legislative position for our client" when Anderson asked things like "this is ok right?" But Anderson is 41 years old, has a law degree, was a lawmaker, and is responsible for his own actions, isn't he? People involved in bribery and extortion don't usually write out detailed contracts spelling it all out. And the judge's instructions to the jury said that these things need not be explicitly spelled out. I guess Stockler was hoping at least some of the jurors would emotionally respond to the idea of poor Tom Anderson being used by these older crooks and ignore the judge's instructions and perhaps prevent some or all of the charges from sticking.

Bottini got to do a follow up to Stockler. I hadn't realized that he could. And he forefully pointed out that Anderson was not Prewitt's victim and repeated Marsh's closing point about Anderson not telling even Lesil McGuire, because he knew it was bad.

Stockler didn't follow that. I'm not sure if he chose not to or that's not part of the rules.

Then the judge gave the jury instructions. They got too complicated for me to write down and I've mentioned some of the key points already. If I can find something that gives the details I'll do another post.

The four alternate jurors were dismissed and the average age of the jurors fell by 10 or 15 years. Within minutes the jurors had asked for a copy of the stipulations. And then another note came out asking when they could have a smoke break. It seemed pretty unlikely that they would have a verdict today. There are seven charges and each has specific standards. It will take up the whole afternoon just sorting that out. And then there are the smoking breaks.

But the show wasn't quite over. Bottini had a point to make. In an interview reported on Channel 2 yesterday, Paul Stockler was quoted as saying that FBI Agent Kepner had lied in her testimony. Bottini argued that if Stockler really said this it would be a violation of some code of standards that I didn't catch. The judge appeared outraged - he had just thanked attorneys for both sides for doing a very good of arguing their cases. He asked Stockler, who paused a long time and then said that the reporter must have misquoted him. (Since it was done inside the courtroom the reporter wouldn't have recorded it.) The judge said, "I won't tolerate this sort of behavior. I'll accept your statement, but I'm not making a conclusion.. . I'll leave it open for another setting."

Then Stockler stood up and stated that yesterday's witness Ms. Bradley had been harassed by the FBI after she testified. Her cell phone kept ringing at security, and they went to her restaurant and confronter her employees. Bottini stood up to say that yesterday she had given a date for a payment made to Tom Anderson that would have been during the legislative session. If that was true it would have been an illegal payment. They were trying to check to see if she had mistaken the date.

And then all rose as the judge left. I've got to run so I don't have time to proof this. Pictures from after the trial are in the previous post.

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