July 11, 2005
Enron Broadband trial testimony ends

The defense rested on Thursday in the Enron Broadband trial, and the prosecution put on its brief rebuttal case on Friday, meaning that closing arguments (Tuesday) and jury deliberations are up next. Tom notes that there was some drama on Friday which didn't get any play in the Chron story.

Judge [Vanessa] Gilmore harshly rebuked Enron Task Force prosecutor Cliff Stricklan for asking a question on cross-examination of defendant Kevin Howard that, if not in direct violation of a limine order (i.e., a pre-trial order directing attorneys not to refer to certain subjects during the trial), at least violated the judge's prior instructions to the Enron Task Force prosecutors.

The rebuke came at the end of cross-examination of Mr. Howard when Mr. Stricklan asked a question about Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce ("CIBC"), one of the bank's that provided financing for the Enron Broadband unit. CIBC entered into this deferred prosecution agreement with the Enron Task Force back in December, 2003 and Judge Gilmore had apparently at least instructed Enron Task Force prosecutors not to ask any questions on that agreement during the Enron Broadband trial. The following is the exchange that occurred:

Mr. Stricklan: In fact, Enron went to CIBC often to fund such deals, isn't that correct?

Mr. Howard: We had set up a very large investment to fund with a number of banks.

Mr. Stricklan: Including CIBC, is that true?

Mr. Howard: Yes, sir.

Mr. Stricklan: And are you aware that [CIBC has] entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice . . .

Mr. Howard's defense attorney: Objection, your Honor!

Judge Gilmore: Stop! Mr. Stricklan, just stop it right now! Have a seat! That's the end of the questions!

With that, a clearly angered Judge Gilmore -- standing in front of her seat on the bench -- terminated any further questioning of Mr. Howard by Enron Task Force prosecutors and excused Mr. Howard as a witness. Taking advantage of Judge Gilmore's reprimand of Mr. Stricklan for emphasis, each of the attorneys for the five Enron defendants promptly announced that each of the defendants had completed putting on their defense.

Amazing. Like Tom, I figured this trial would be a slamdunk for the feds, and like Tom, I'm just flabbergasted that they've now screwed up three times (see his post for details on the earlier mishaps), making this seem a lot more doubtful now. If they can't do this one right, how are they going to handle the Big Three? Could we even see some charges dropped in those cases if they don't get across-the-board convictions here? Stay tuned, we're finally nearing the finish line on this sucker.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 11, 2005 to Enronarama | TrackBack

this happened thursday, not friday

Posted by: steve on July 11, 2005 7:57 AM

This is far from a "slam dunk" and always has been. This case by the government has always been weak at best. Several charges against Krautz and Howard were thrown out becuase Judge Gilmore saw the government had no case. I hope they are all found to be innocent.

Posted by: Alan on July 14, 2005 11:39 AM