26 October 2009

Hard to Make Your Closing Thrilling When It's All About the Paperwork

Defendant lied to get benefits from a State Agency:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I told you we'd get through this trial quicker than the last trial. Unfortunately, this one was more boring than most cases too. That's just the way it is in paperwork cases. You get up here and basically the only witnesses are people showing you how the paperwork is done and telling you why he did what he did.

Going all the way back to February 5, 2005, I told you I was going to have this paper for you. Feel free to go over this back in the jury room. He answers everything so that he can get benefits, including checking no on this question, which, compared to a lot of things in this 12 pages document, really isn't all that complex a question. “Have you, or a person for whom you are applying been convicted, after January 1, 2001, of snipe hunting or possession of snipe pelts?”

OK, he wants you to believe he didn't understand that question. Well, let's say he can't read too well. I don't believe that's been shown. He was reading things while on the stand and his illiteracy seems to come and go, as convenient. Still, we know better, because Pete Jones and Mary Greene got up on the stand and told us what they do for each interview. Now, I know that Mr. Smith tells you it's a ten minute thing, you're in you're out, you're done. I guess the interviewers are supposed to sit around the rest of the day drinking coffee or something, because if they only schedule 2 to 4 interviews a day I don't know what else you'd be doing. What are they filling that time with? It just doesn't make sense. Recall that they both told you the same thing. This is what we do; this is what was done with her. And they weren't in the courtroom during the others' testimony, so they couldn't hear what the other said and sit down and say exactly the same thing.

They both came up here and told you that on two dates a year apart, on 15 October 2007 Pete Jones interviewed him about the various benefits he was getting from State Agency and he answered no on the snipe hunting question. It gets put into the computer and he answers “no” again when they go over it verbally. The he has to scan it himself. All those opportunities to say “Yes, I've been convicted.”

18 November 2008, Mary Greene, same thing, they do the computer – and why would the workers cheat on the computer? It can't take that long to fill out the questions on the computer – they fill out all the computer stuff. She prints it out, goes over it with him. He again says, “No, I've not been convicted.” At least twice on that day he says, “No, I've not been convicted.”

Now, the big defense seems to be that, “They knew.” “They knew; they should have known.” Their one sheet of paper which seems to go anywhere near that is this one. This is the printout you've seen us arguing about up here. Now, this is, as it says here on the front, “Request to Be Made Payee.” This is from Federal Agency. You can tell it's from Federal Agency. Here they go on about “We are returning this application to you for your records” and telling that they store their copy electronically. This sheet was turned in the day after he told State Agency that he didn't have any snipe hunting convictions in 2006. It says that Federal Agency is giving him $176 a month from this date forward. And there's this part which says if you have any questions contact us at Federal Agency.

So, this is a Federal Agency document, which, by its own writings on page 2, was given back to Mr. Smith. Not given to anyone else at State Agency. And you'll recall that when Mary Greene was on the stand and defense counsel walked up and said “This is the form you get at the office” and she said “No” and he stopped asking questions real quick. She explained a little bit further, when prompted, that they get a different form than this. This is something that was given to Mr. Smith and if it had made its way into the State Agency's paperwork would have been stamped “received”, with a certain date, just like you see it stamped on the February 5 application Mr. Smith filled out and handed in. And, if he'd gone and gotten this copy from State Agency, like he told you today, it would have “received” such and such date on it. It doesn't - this is just his application from Federal Agency, to get money from them as well.

And, as far as it goes, for impeachment purposes, we have, March 22, 2006, the day before this application – see right here, it has March 23 – he was at State Agency and again said “Snipe Hunting Conviction: No.”

So, the whole “They knew” thing is a red herring and there are lot of red herrings, and that's [Mr. Defense Attorney]'s job. He's here to try to get his client not convicted. And he's tried to point out everything he can to get her not convicted. There's just nothing here which rebuts the paperwork and interviews.

Mr. Jones and Ms. Greene have no reason to be going after him. He couldn't state a reason that State Agency would be coming after him. No reason why Mr. Jones and Ms. Greene would be lying about it, going after him. Why would they make all this up? It doesn't make any sense at all. They're just doing their jobs and they're here today, rather than being at work dealing with their other clients because he lied. And that's it plain and simple ladies and gentlemen. There's not really a whole lot more to this. I wish I had some big rousing argument to make or statements to make.

He lied. He lied in order to get benefits. He's trying to do the same thing today by shuffling things at you like this application to Federal Agency and claiming he can't read anything despite the fact his initial application is filled out pretty well and on the other days he didn't really have to read anything. He got asked the questions. As a matter of fact, his inability to read is not what we're here for today because the two times he's charged are the times he was asked the questions by those folks and answered “No, I don't have any snipe hunting convictions.”

You'll get all this back there. Of course, here's the paper showing his snipe hunting convictions, 2003, before any of this started, before he applied at all to State Agency: felony snipe hunting.

I wish I had some sort of rousing statement to give you, like I said, but I think it's straight forward. I don't really think there's any reasonable doubt here folks. [Get charging instruction from judge] We have to prove he falsely stated in a document to get benefits from State Agency. That's what he did. He did it twice, and I ask you to find him guilty of that. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.


Anonymous said...

Is this your closing argument verbatim [minus the bits about snipes, etc]? If so did you tape it and transcribe it yourself, or order the transcript?

And if not, is it your memory of what you argued? Or was it written out ahead of time?

Just curious...

Ken Lammers said...

Order the transcript? I survive on a government salary. ;-)

Several facts and names etc. are changed, but the argument is as best I could recall it the day after. I'm sure it leaves out all sorts of umm's and "you know"'s and makes me appear slightly more brilliant than I really am.