Arguments and Charts by Defense
Defense attorney David Bernick starting his closing argument in court this afternoon by reiterating his theme of the case: “There was no big secret.” Replete with a big white board and multiple charts, Bernick argued the government presented no evidence that proved any of the charges.
Bernick also argued this case was not about criminal charges, it was about the prosecution taking the script written by the EPA and then using that for the counts in the Superseding Indictment. Bernick argued the imminent hazard warning became the criminal endangerment charges. Next, the 104(e) responses and the mine access negotiations became the obstruction of justice charges.
Bernick presented specific jury instructions for argument as well. Jury instruction # 2 said that if there is an innocent explanation for the defendant’s conduct, as well an explanation that the defendant was engaged in wrongdoing, the government has the burden to prove they engaged in wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt. Bernick presented this while saying the government could not prove the wrongdoing, therefore, the innocent behavior explanation is the one the jury should believe.
Another jury instruction Bernick used was jury instruction # 50. This instructed the jury to look at the intent in the obstruction of justice charge. The instruction requires a corrupt intent. Bernick argued there was such intent with the defendants. He painted the mine access as a disagreement that became more heated and hostile as the clean up progressed. Furthermore, he argued that the EPA was asking questions about things when the agency already had the answers. Bernick argued this evidence does not fit a corrupt intent, because the EPA was on a witchhunt.
Bernick asked the court for a brief break, as he had been talking for over an hour at this point. Judge Molloy called for a 10 minute recess, after which Bernick would resume his closing.
– Maggie Braun (posted at 4:00 pm)