Bernick battles Locke on cross
Judge Donald Molloy prefaced Robert Locke’s cross examination this afternoon by admonishing the jury that none of Locke’s testimony could be used against defendant Bettacchi, and that all of his testimony should be viewed with skepticism.
Molloy then launched into a description of the U.S. Attorney’s job (to provide justice, not to win cases) and their obligations to disclose Brady and Giglio evidence. He explained that the prosecution violated these obligations by withholding evidence regarding the credibility of Locke, and the jury should therefore view his testimony with “great skepticism” and look at his relationship with the prosecution and his bias against Grace before deciding what weight, if any, to give his testimony.
Bernick first tried to establish that Locke knew he was going to be a critical witness for the government and relished his role in the case against Grace.
Locke said he did not have an understanding that he was going to be a critical witness, although he conceded that he thought he was of use to the government or else they would not be pursuing him. “I did not have an urge to be a key witness in the case, just a witness.”
Bernick then pointed out that Locke received a non-target letter the very next day after his first interview with the government, and went to great lengths to try to get Locke to admit that he knew the non-target letter was different for him because it did not have a limited time frame.
Locke replied he did not know what these letters normally looked like, because this was the only one he ever received.Next Bernick hammered on the “special relationship” between Locke and Agent Marsden. He admitted several emails between Marsden and Locke discussing Locke’s possible future appearance as a witness, many of which were apparently the basis of the defense’s prosecutorial misconduct arguments, and made a big deal about the fact that Locke offered Marsden lunch once when he stopped by his home to discuss the trial.
Locke repeatedly stated that he had a good working relationship with Marsden, but did not consider it “special,” but finally agreed with the persistent Bernick that the relationship may have been special because Marsden was the primary person he spoke with regarding the trial.Locke’s immunity offer was the next issue Bernick tackled.
Locke repeatedly affirmed that he rejected the government’s offer of immunity in 2006, and stated that “he was never under the delusion” that he had any sort of immunity agreement with the prosecution.
Bernick insinuated that Locke threw Marsden out of his house after receiving a letter from the prosecution that he was an unindicted co-conspirator because this violated his unwritten immunity agreement. Locke responded that there was no unwritten agreement, he was simply angry at being named a co-conspirator because he thought that was an unjust characterization of him.
Bernick then got Locke to agree that his immunity offer was never officially withdrawn. Locke stated that he did not believe the offer was still on the table after he rejected it, but admitted he never received a letter stating it was withdrawn. (Is withdrawing immunity after it has been rejected standard? Please comment if you know.)
Locke then said he did not know that the statute of limitations had run on his possible charges, and at the time he testified he believed he could have been prosecuted. Bernick tried to get Locke to say the reason he told the jury he rejected the immunity was to make himself look like a hero because he could be prosecuted for his testimony, but Locke denied this, and repeatedly stated his only purpose was to tell the jury he rejected the immunity offer. Upon further questioning of his purposes behind rejecting immunity, Locke used the attorney-client privilege and said he could not discuss the area further.
Finally, Bernick attempted to impeach Locke on his earlier testimony that he only met with the prosecution five times before trial. Locke said that he actually met with them 10-12 times, but many of the meetings lasted two days, which he originally considered one meeting. Bernick did finally get Locke to admit he misspoke when he stated previously that he was not testifying on behalf of the government.
After Locke and the jury were excused, Bernick told Judge Molloy that the defense should close their case next week. Molloy then heard argument regarding the conspiracy jury instruction, and defense attorneys for defendants McCaig and Bettacchi argued that the conspiracy cases against their clients should be dismissed.
-Katy Furlong (posted 7:45 p.m.)
Posted: April 28th, 2009 under Law.