Mr. Becker Continues on the Offense
Tuesday morning started with the defense continuing cross examination of Mr. Becker. There was a concerted effort in the courtroom to wear green, with Judge Molloy opening the day with a comment that he was wearing a green tie, which was slightly visible above his court robe. But things were quickly brought back to business as Mr. Bernick, counsel for defendant W.R. Grace, continued his examination.
Mr. Bernick fired through letters and memoranda at a breakneck pace, though he would occasionally display Defense Exhibit 10068.2 for reference, which was admitted for demonstrative purposes only. There were a few responses volleyed back by Mr. Becker, but the vast majority were phrased in a way for Mr. Bernick to obtain the response of “yes” or “no” he was seeking. Mr. Bernick attempted to imply that the government had not shared all the exhibits with Mr. Becker, but was generally refuted as Mr. Becker had trouble recalling which documents had and had not been reviewed with him prior to trial. Other memos appeared to compare levels with other plants, but were sped through too quickly to catch exactly what Mr. Bernick meant to establish.
Ms. Kubota, attorney for Defendant Jack Wolter, spent her time with Mr. Becker by carefully demonstrating through Grace letters and memoranda that her client was “moving forward aggressively for dust reduction measures” in 1976-77. Ms. Kubota’s strategy was succinct and clear: she would display an exhibit, highlight and read what she needed to demonstrate her point, then finally offer a concise explanation in plain English. The letters were generally from various people and departments within Grace. They created a trail of steps taken and money allocated from 1976-77 to be used for dust control, and to find ways to bring down exposure levels using OSHA guidelines, with a goal of .2%, or 1/10th of the PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit). Many letters were from Mr. Wolter, with requests and compliance dates through 1976-78. One letter from Wolter requested proposed research objectives, manpower, and dates for engineers to bring fiber levels into compliance. Ms. Kubota successfully used Mr. Becker to tell her client’s version of the facts by solid cross examination techniques, which allow the attorney to lead the witness and tell the story.
Finally Mr. Krakoff, attorney for defendant Eschenbach, used a white board to (presumably) recap the disparity between the corporate reporting chart created by Mr. Becker and a corporate structure chart dated 1976. Mr. Krakoff sympathized with Mr. Becker’s recollection of a company he left “20-25 years ago,” but hounded on areas which were inconsistent.
Mr. Krakoff also attempted to refresh Mr. Becker’s recollection with unadmitted Defense Exhibit 8931, but was rebuked by the prosecution when he read aloud from the document. A document used to refresh the memory of the person testifying is not given to the jury unless it is admitted independently. F.R.Evid. 612.
–Hannah Stone (posted 10:18 pm)