Defense Case Ends with Peronard
Defense attorney David Bernick concluded the defense case by calling the EPA’s Libby On-Site Coordinator, Paul Peronard, back to the stand. Bernick and Peronard sparred for over an hour, with Bernick asking questions regarding EPA Region 8’s role within the larger agency.
Bernick showed Peronard several letters and memoranda to, from, and between EPA employees and administrators, including a few statements in which Peronard purportedly stated that he would not return to Libby unless he could be “king.” Peronard showed great unwillingness to give simple responses to Bernick’s questions, instead vociferously objecting to Bernick’s questions and giving long and difficult responses. Bernick several times asked for Judge Molloy to instruct Peronard to answer the questions, and occasionally moved the court to strike Peronard’s testimony as non-responsive.
Once Bernick finished, prosecutor Kevin Cassidy asked Peronard a much shorter series of questions to clarify Peronard’s difficulty with Bernick’s questions. Peronard reiterated his concerns with Bernick’s questions, and also stated that he had wanted to be “king” in the sense that he wanted to be in charge of the EPA operation in Libby, as the EPA effort had previously suffered from several people concurrently sharing authority, which had led to confusion and wasted effort.
At the conclusion of Peronard’s testimony, the three individual defendants rested. Bernick, for W.R. Grace, wanted to introduce one last exhibit, a summary of Peronard’s statements to the Libby Community Advisory Group made in 2003. This required the jury to return for just a few minutes, at which time the exhibit was introduced and Cassidy asked a few questions.
At this point, the evidentiary portion of the trial was done. Molloy told the jurors to return tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. for closing arguments, with Molloy promising to hold the attorneys to strict time limits. With the jury excused, Molloy then prepared to hold argument on jury instructions for the rest of the afternoon, and if need be, into the evening.
Mark Lancaster – posted 5 p.m.