Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1476, Feb. 16th, 2011




The trial of former Judge Mark Ciavarella continued today but with a less frenetic pace than observers are accustomed to. Judge Edwin Kosik scheduled each summation, then took a break. After the break, the instructions began. Kosik said, “This morning you are most likely going to hear more words than you’ve ever heard in your lifetime”. Closing arguments began after 8:45AM this morning. Prosecutor Gordan Zubrod said that the case was important to Ciavarella, his family, the people of Luzerne County and the justice system. He talked about what white collar crime was. He stated that intelligent people have the wherewith all to commit complex crimes that they have to plan out. He told the jury that such a criminal usually played on their own standing in the community to deceive the people that trusted them. Zubroud said that at the start of the trial Maerk Ciavarella was presumed innocent. But today, the prosecution lifted that veil of innocence from the case and destroyed it for the following reasons:
Destroyed by a competent and relentless cross examination
Destroyed by Ciavarella’s dealings with Bob Powell’s rent to the condo,,
Destroyed by kickback payment from Robert Mericle,
Destroyed by his extortion of Robert Powell.
In detailing white collar crime, the Prosecutor said that there are 4 elements needed:
The prosecution implied Ciavrella consciously controlled coincidental events and tried to contain them with various schemes and cover-ups.
The prosecution said that a conspiracy statue means people are acting together. On the extortion the government made the point that the misdeeds came after Ciavrella and Conahan used up Robert Mericle’s finder’s fee. The government said that the former Judge used Mericle’s money to get himself out of debt. From a lifestyle where he was living well beyond his means. On the FBI wire that was played in court the Prosecution said this was the most damning because Ciavarella is heard to ask whether the boxes of Fed Ex money distributed by Jill Moran could be used as legal fees. But Zubroud’s most damaging point in his summation was when he referred to Ciavarella’s crusade for a new Juvenile Center since his election in 1995. But it took until 2002 before Ciavarella made a move to do anything. In a methodical summation read in a strong voice, Zubrad asked the Jury to convict Ciavarella of all counts.
The defense began their summation by saying that the government didn’t meet their burden of proof. Attorney Al Flora said some of the testimony just didn’t add up. Flora asked if Ciavarella was extorting Robert Powell, why was Powell a frequent guest at the Judge’s house eating, drinking and swimming? If Ciavarella was trying to extort Powell, why was Powell the only person other than family At Ciavarella’s retention party at his house in 2005? Flora said that Powell from his testimony in court and from his demeanor on the FBI tape that Powell was not a man who could be pushed around or extorted. The defense attorney said that there was indeed something going on with Powell and Conahan but that Ciavarella was not part of it. Flora again strongly reiterated that Robert Mericle paid a finder’s fee and not a bribe and referred to the timeline to prove his theory. He also said that there is no testimony from Bob Powell that he was ever strong armed to hire Mericle as the builder.
On the Gina Carelli testimony, Flora said all of that went unchallenged by the government. The defense attorney, using no notes said it was Ciavarella’s dream to build a Juvenile Center and his intentions and motives were pure. He asked the Jury to acquit Ciavarella of all charges because the government didn’t meet the standard of “behind a reasonable doubt”. But what is clearly problematic is that the former Judge admitted to tax fraud so the jury has to almost convict him of that.
While both Attorney gave their summations, Ciavarella listened intently with his hand on his chin looking straight ahead at the jury. His entire family including in laws, children, friends and significant others of children were out in support of the former Jurist. While the family went to lunch Ciavarella stayed in the Federal Courthouse during the lunch hour.
The jury instructions began shortly before 11:00AM and continued after lunch into the afternoon. All in all, Judge Kosik gave the jury 4 breaks plus lunch. Kosik painstakingly went over the 39 counts breaking them up into groups. At 2:45PM, he dismissed the alternate jurors 13, 14, 15 and 16 saying they could talk about the case if they wanted to but also adding that he hoped they didn’t. The jury went into the Jury Room to elect a foreperson. They broke for the day after 3:15PM and advised they would reconvene at 8:30AM to begin deliberations.
LuLac is covering the trial for WYLN TV 35.


At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and away we go...
Good coverage. Lets watch what happens from here. Lots of counts to consider. Its got to take a little while dont you think? Friday is my prediction and guilty is my call.

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question that I have is this: If Mericle said that it is common practice for him to pay finder's fees, can he cite other example of when he has paid fees to elected officials?

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Junction said...

Saw your interview on WBRE last night. Are you going today for the possible jury verdict?

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After we get this trial settled weve got the Cordaro Munchak trials
and the Mellow affair followed by
whatevers next... NEPA is becoming CORRUPTION CENTRAL. Has been for years and I fear will continue to be and it all comes down to GREED!
Everyone of these individuals was doing well financially and held positions of POWER and prestige.
Some were even Good Men at one point in their careers. Damn sad commentary.


At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what to make of this testimony? Are we supposed to feel sorry for the guy cause he was in financial deep doo-doo? He created the mess, stepped into it and rolled around in it. Now he wants us to think - what? He was under financial strain? He thought an illegal bribe was actually a legal one? Mericle gave him poor legal advice? Powell forced money on him, again and again? Come on!

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will really have been a huge waste of time and money if he is convicted of the crimes he had already pleaded guilty to. If that happens, someone needs to file a complaint against the judge and the U.S Attorney's office. The reason the plea was rejected is because Civeralla was claiming it wasn't kids for cash or I believe the terminology was "Quid Pro Quo" Why didn't they present any evidence?

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was amazed at the statements made by the judges wife. Who is going to spend one minute feeling sorry for her or him? The absolute arrogance continues. These people
feel special and privilidged and in the end they still dont get it!
Welcome to hard times like most of the rest of us. The difference is you threw it all away!


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