Kevin Trudeau criminal trial winds up with Katie's lawyers pissing off the judge...but all is not lost for Katie fans
All righty, then! I'm finally back with a brief update on serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's criminal trial. After providing some background information about the case on this post, and then some info and commentary about the first real day of the trial on this one, I took a brief break from all of it for a few days.
Friday, November 8 wrapped up the first week of the trial. Court let out early-ish, adjourned to Tuesday, November 12 (Monday the 11th is the Veterans Day holiday). Despite what I saw as a snarkworthy beginning to the trial when Trudeau's attorney brought up that cheesy-moon free-speech analogy in his opening arguments, it apparently hasn't all been going bad for Trudeau, at least according to some courtroom observers and a couple of court documents. The presiding judge, Ronald Guzman, seems to be making a considerable effort to ensure that the government meets its burden of proof. I can't be entirely certain at this point, but right now it doesn't seem as if this case is going to be a slam-dunk for the prosecution. On the other hand, it's probably not yet time for the Katie supporters to succumb to irrational exuberance.
On Thursday, November 7, registered dietician Melissa Dobbins testified on behalf of the prosecution, although she did not offer an opinion about the safety or efficacy of the weight-loss plan Katie described in the book whose infomercials are at the heart of this trial. Also on November 6 and 7, more documents were filed as the defense continued to try to modify the prosecution's proposed supplemental jury instructions. Here you go.
I don't know if the defense was a tad unorganized, or if it is normal for instructions to continue to be modified as a trial progresses and new issues come up.
At any rate, Friday, November 8 was an interesting day, according to courtroom observers and various media reports. The prosecution rested its case after only an hour of testimony; I'll have more about that when I get the info. And then the show was pretty much over for the day, much to the surprise of the court, apparently (and to the relief of the jurors, according to one observer). But Katie's lawyers made a little goof, and reportedly things got a bit exciting as a result. Law360 reports that Katie's lead counsel, Thomas Kirsch (the same one who made the cheesy-moon statement in his opening argument) was angrily rebuked by Judge Guzman for not notifying the court far enough in advance that they were not going to call Trudeau -- or any other defense witnesses, for that matter -- to the stand. In fact they said that Kevin will not be testifying at all. The judge said the defense was wasting the jury's time, according to that report.
Kirsch explained that he didn’t know Thursday whether Trudeau would testify — which he told the court at the time — but discussed it with his client and made the decision an hour after court let out.I am no legal expert by any means, but I am pretty sure that it is not a good thing to piss off a judge.
“You said you didn’t know, and then an hour later you knew? That’s just not right,” Judge Guzman told Kirsch. "I understand your primary responsibility is to your client, but you owe something to the system and you have not lived up to that responsibility with your conduct here, I'll tell you that."
And I wonder why the defense has apparently chosen not to call any witnesses. I can see why they'd want to keep Katie off of the stand, since lately he's had little to say in court except, "Fifth Amendment!" But what about that whole long list of other potential witnesses that I shared the other day? (See "Criminal Case Document number 133, filed 11/04/13".) Did the defense decide that witnesses are unnecessary because they are convinced they've already won the jury over... or because they can't find a witness who would actually be able to turn the tide in Katie's favor without fibbing a little bit, which I understand is a very serious offense in court? Or are the only available witnesses New-Age ninnies and starry-eyed fans whose credibility is questionable at best? Heck if I know. You may discuss among yourselves and get back to me.
Despite the apparent glitches in the defense, they seem to be holding their own, and Judge Guzman appears to be making an effort to clarify that the government has a rather large burden of proof to meet. He signed an order on Friday the 8th that could be construed as favorable to the defense, in that His Honor acknowledges seemingly contradictory case precedents, and notes that certain points that were ruled as unambiguous in a civil context are not so unambiguous in a criminal context. In other words, the government's case might not be as strong as some have thought. His order is related to and in response to another doc filed by Katie's attorneys on the 8th, a proposed jury instruction regarding theory of the defense. Both are here.
At this point the Trudeau fans, at least the ones whose comments I've seen, are feeling quite optimistic. On the other side, I haven't heard anything from the most entertaining detractors yet; I think they're preoccupied with other Matters of Consequence, such as Major Motion Pictures, or ranting about jealous AIDS-infected prostitutes. As for me, I'm on the fence. I want justice but I cannot fully define it. I firmly believe that Kevin Trudeau is a lifelong con artist, but I still don't think he belongs in a cage, and if he is found guilty in this criminal contempt trial he could end up imprisoned for the rest of his life.
There's also the fact that if he is acquitted, there will almost certainly be lunatic rants from the "GIN Destroyer" contingent, which at the very least will make for some more entertaining blog posts and Photoshop efforts. So on the pro-acquittal side, there's that to consider.
But on a serious note: It could still go either way. I heard that closing arguments are expected on Tuesday the 12th, and a verdict could be rendered soon after. Or not. You never know what might happen during these crazy courtroom hijinks. At any rate, right now it appears that the trial may not last as long as the two to three weeks originally projected.
More soon, so stay with me.