10:00AM Awaiting session to start in Judge Nancy Edmunds's courtroom.
Testimony has officially ended in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial and closing arguments are due to start Monday morning. Today's session is to settle some outstanding matters including a decision by prosecutors to drop one of 3 tax charges against Bernard Ferguson.
Prosecutors opposed a request filed on Bernard's behalf to acquit two other tax counts.
Seems that Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson also asked for some extortion charges to be dropped- we'll soon find out.
Defense counsel is all seated at the defendants' table minus Kwame's lawyer Jim Thomas. The defendants are absent this morning, their presence is not required for this session.
10:10AM And here comes Jim Thomas.
10:14AM Judge Edmunds enters the courtroom. Defense counsel introduces themselves and judge greets them.
Getting ready to argue rule 29 and jury instruction issues.
John Shea, Bernard's lawyer is beginning. Shea says that the government has indicated the 2007 tax year count has been dismissed so only dealing with 2004 tax year. That was filed on October 15th 2005. Case investigator of IRS served subpoena in February 2007 for documents. At some point that month, an unsigned document was produced to the IRS.
Edmunds having issue with hearing Shea on the microphone.
Shea says there is no direct evidence that Bernard Kilpatrick signed to authorize the tax document. All government has is testimony of Cassandra Jones and Allen Young. Shea says that Young's explanation of not having a document at time of trial because it had been longer than 3 years, does not hold up. For the 2005 tax year, they were able to produce a signed document. In 2007, they acknowledged they couldn't have a signed document because all interactions with Bernard were by phone.
Judge asks about implications of PIN used to file the tax return.
Shea says let's assume that Bernard gave them a PIN, it means nothing unless he has also given them the PIN under penalties of perjury.
Shea says that on the tax form that a taxpayer is supposed to sign includes the designation of the PIN and the declaration that the taxpayer has reviewed the document. Shea doesn't think that the PIN matters for the purposes of a rule 29 motion.
Judge wants to clarify argument. Asks if by giving PIN he authorized filing but did not swear it was true under penalty of perjury.
Shea says not quite. Maybe in part. Shea says its just a "ministerial" function- not sure what that is.
Judge says she understands there is no signature but is different from saying that he didn't know what was in the return and thought it was accurate.
Shea says it is not enough for a taxpayer to tell a 3rd party to file an inaccurate tax form. Shea says it's a perjury statute so you can't have a 3rd party commit party on your behalf.
Shea says tax preparer has obligation to get tax form signed. Shea says government's argument that if someone takes the stand and doesn't take the oath, they don't have to tell the truth.
Judge says there is persuasive force to the government's argument.
Jennifer Blackwell responds for the government. Agrees that there is circumstantial evidence that Bernard paid tax penalty in full. Says Jones and Young said they would have gotten signature under normal course of practice. Says they did get his consent and this should be sufficient to take to jury.
Judge will take the matter under advisement and will submit to the jury.
Susan Van Dusen for Bobby Ferguson looking for judgment of acquittal on a couple of counts- 2,3,7,8 and 10- because of insufficient evidence from the government.
Van Dusen is interrupted by her own cell phone ringing.
Talking about 3 counts against which they did not move because they related to payments of Ferguson on behalf of his company.