Thursday, June 01, 2023

Defense: Government's case based on inference, not fact

by Nate Hegyi & University of Montana
| April 23, 2009 12:00 AM

Using documents related to the controversial testimony of witness Robert Locke, the defense argued Tuesday afternoon that the government’s case against W.R. Grace & Co. was based on inference and not fact.

“The counsel is drawing connections that may or may not be real,” defense attorney David Bernick said.

The defense’s argument centered on the idea that the prosecution was cherry picking documents and taking phrases out of context in an attempt to mislead the jury and build more substance into the charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act charges.

Defense attorney David Krakoff referred to a series of documents pertaining to the 1980s NIOSH research of O.M. Scott, a customer of Grace: “To suggest that any of the documents are relative to a conspiracy … it is clear that there is absolutely no relevance at all.”

Defense attorney Stephen Spivack appeared particularly baffled at the case against his client, defendant Robert Walsh.

“What I heard today about Mr. Walsh was the first thing I’ve heard about him in seven weeks,” Spivack said, referring to prosecutor Kris McLean’s arguments earlier Tuesday morning. Spivack added that the prosecution had “produced no evidence to prove that he’s in a conspiracy.”

Spivack went on to claim that McLean used “sinister little twists” on documents without knowing what they mean. Then Spivack mocked the government’s use of Locke.

“They are still in love with Mr. Locke, they think that he is the ticket to their conviction,” Spivack said.

Though the defense was generally displeased with the prosecution, they reserved a particular mean-spiritedness for McLean. At one point, Bernick openly mocked the prosecutor’s slow drawl and delivery and at another point, members of the defense well laughed when McLean said he couldn’t remember reading over one of the government’s documents.

Judge Donald Molloy also appeared displeased with McLean.

“It is mind boggling to me that a case of this magnitude would be brought by the United States and that McLean would bring documents that he’s never even seen before,” Molloy said before pounding his gavel and calling for evening recess.

Court is set to resume next Monday.