Local 4 is inside the courtroom for the federal corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Kilpatrick's dad Bernard Kilpatrick and his childhood friend Bobby Ferguson. Each day we bring you information from inside federal court as it happens.
And the end is finally here for the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial. We will begin this morning with Judge Nancy Edmunds's instructions to the jury. That should take the better part of the morning and then this afternoon we will begin with the government's closing arguments and possibly one of the defendant's closing arguments. We anticipate the closing arguments and government rebuttal should take us through to Wednesday.
Defendants Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson are seated at the defendant's table engaged in heated conversation.
I wouldn't doubt that the defendants are tightly wound this morning. Kwame took to twitter on Friday and cryptically wrote:
I've heard the saying "They can control your body but not your mind." That's still too much damn control for any man to have. #stateproperty
9:09AM Counsel all enters courtroom together, likely from judge's chambers.
9:13AM Judge Nancy Edmunds enters the courtroom.
Jury enters and she discusses structural matters. Says one of the counts of the indictment, count 39, which involved 2007 tax charge against Bernard Kilpatrick has been dismissed. Says that the schedule over the next few days is changed because they don't want to break up the arguments in the middle of the arguments, so there may be early lunches or breaks at odd times.
Also wants to mention that at closing arguments, that the government because they have burden of proof, they have first and last word. They get first closing argument and then rebuttal at the end.
Judge tells them "you have been an extraordinary jury" and that we haven't lost a day over the last five months with anyone sick. "so conscientious and attentive" through difficult weather.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the hard work you've put in."
Says when she tells people that she has had 16 jurors who have hung in no one can believe it.
Now jury instructions. All jurors have instructions. Last part will have to do with manner of deliberations.
Judge mentions she was a law clerk in the mid-70s and there were no jury instructions then. But as procedures became more complex, they started handing out jury instructions. Says there are still judges in this court who don't give written instructions. She finds it helpful to follow along.
"So, members of the jury, now it is time for me to instruct you in the law in this case," says Edmunds.
Asks them to listen carefully. 2 main duties as jurors. First, deciding what the facts are. That is their job and not the judge's. Second duty, is to take law and apply it to the facts and it is her job to instruct them about the law.
All instructions are important and should be considered together.
As you know, defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges in the indictment. The defendants start the trial with a clean slate and no evidence against them and the law presumes they are innocent. This presumption of innocence stays with them. Defendants have no need to prove they are innocent- up to government to prove them guilty. Must find them innocent unless they find proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is based on reason and common sense. Proof which is so convincing that you would not hesitate to act on it in your own life.
If you are convinced, return guilty verdict, if not, must be a not guilty verdict.
Do not let rumors or anything from outside the court influence your decision in any way. Lawyers statements are not evidence, judge's rulings and questions and comments are not evidence. During the trial, judge ruled they could not hear all answers or see all exhibits or struck things from the record. Cannot consider any of these things. Cannot let them influence decision in any way.
You should use common sense in weighing the evidence. If your experience leads you to a certain conclusion, you are free to reach that conclusion.
You have heard terms direct and circumstantial evidence. Direct is eyewitness testimony like a witness saying he saw it raining outside. Circumstantial is chain of circumstances leading to a fact. Your job to decide how much weight to give either type of evidence. Consider all the evidence and give it weight you believe it deserves.
Another part of job is to decide how credible the witnesses were. Free to believe everything a witness said, part of it or none at all. Ask if witness could clearly see or hear the events. How good the memory seemed to be or if anything else interfered with ability to remember events,. Did witness appear honest or to be lying. Relationship to government or defendants. Any possible witness bias or inconsistent testimony should also be considered. If witness was inconsistent, does this make testimony less believable. Was it honest mistake or deliberate. How believable was witness testimony in light of all other evidence. Was it contradicted by other evidence. Two honest people who witnessed the same events may not see it the same way.
One more point on witnesses, sometime jurors wonder if number of witnesses should be important. Concentrate on credibility and not the numbers.
Last thing, lawyers' objections. Those are there to allow for a fair trial. Rulings based on evidence and not on feelings on the case.