Category: Cooperating Witness
Since my last post on McQueary, Joe Paterno gave a press interview to Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post. According to the reporter, Paterno said that McQueary sat at Paterno’s kitchen table and told him about hearing noises coming from the shower late the evening before. “He was very upset and I asked why, and he was very reluctant to get into it. He told me what he saw, and I said, what? He said it, well, looked inappropriate, or fondling, I’m not quite sure exactly how he put it.” He went on to say that McQueary was unclear about the nature of what he saw.
The Sunday Miami Herald had a page-one story on the Scott Rothstein criminal enterprise. While most of the scandalous events have been publicized by now, one quote caught my attention. Former US Attorney Jeffrey Sloman, in response to the cacophony surrounding Rothstein’s lack of credibility, is quoted as saying “some of the most despicable people have been great witnesses.” Jeff’s observation goes right to the heart of the cooperation flaw in our justice system.
It is comparatively easy to cross-examine the cooperating witness. One who is involved with the conspiracy. Who committed crimes. One with a substantial history of crimes, deception and dishonesty. Who has cheated and defrauded regular people like the jurors. The jury has little sympathy for them, and cheers on your exposure of his ugly character defects.
As some of you know, I like to have concrete examples to use in illustrating and discussing the arts of trial advocacy. I don’t think anyone can learn them from abstract lectures. So when I come across a good example, it gets me motivated. A beautiful set of examples of cross-examining the cooperating witness comes from the New York State trial of James W. Marguilies, an Ohio lawyer indicted for a pump and dump scheme.