Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day Four - Afternoon - Fiddle Faddle!

Philip Munger: That's right - Fiddle Faddle! That'll get me in the mood to talk about John Henry Browne's cross-examination technique.

Fiddle-Faddle was the title of one of LeRoy Anderson's greatest hits. He's the guy who wrote The Syncopated Clock, The Typewriter, Blue Tango and many other pop classic pieces that populated the American airwaves in the 1950s. Think Lawrence Welk in the concert hall to imagine his music, if you don't know of it. But, wait! If you don't know LeRoy anderson, you probably don't know Lawrence Welk. But, wait, again! We all get to hear a little bit of LeRoy Anderson every Christmas. He also wrote the perennial secular Christmas piece, Sleigh Ride.

There was once a big audience for LeRoy Anderson and his music. Times have changed. A lot. Maybe there's a town somewhere that has a LeRoy Anderson Festival every year. But the styles he portrayed seldom resonate now with anyone under 50 years old.

I was thinking of another way to describe John Henry Browne this afternoon as I watched him work the jury. He's been described as Eddie Haskell, and as Sir John Henry Browne. Both are valid, as they cover aspects of his courtroom presence. I've already explained here why I have enormous respect for this interesting attorney. But I was struggling for a term to describe why I think his strategy isn't working. And I came up with "fiddle-faddle," which can also mean screwing around with something, or wasting time.

I got a sense that his constant fussing over aspects of Rick Smith's confessional agreement with the Feds isn't resonating with the jury. At all. I watched some of them yesterday afternoon, outside the court building, as they waited for transportation home or away to their temporary lodging. This is a fairly blue-collar jury. The weather turned markedly toward winter yesterday, and is unpredictable today. It is a time when blue-collar Alaskans are concerned with dealing with the cold weather around their homes or businesses. I didn't dare talk to any of them, but I could feel that their pensiveness was as much about their concerns over the weather as about their responsibility as jurors, which I've seen them express in the courtroom.

Alaskans are remarkably resilient to being taken along novel paths by outsiders. Several instances occurred yesterday and today, where Browne showed his lack of understanding of the uniqueness of Alaska and Alaskans. He hasn't made the irreverseable error of talking down to the jury, but he's failed the common test put against outsiders when they have to try to talk about aspects of our place to us and blow it.

Fred James: Since I’m on the defense’s potential testimony list, I’m barred from the courtroom UNTIL I’ve testified. Thus I flew all the way here from Washington but can’t actually see and hear the case yet!! How totally frustrating!

However I can still read newspapers, watch the grainy black and white videos on the site that allege Bill Allen is “Buying Vic’s vote and heart.” I listen to every point of view I can. Since the government is presenting its case now, many of the comments I’ve heard are negative and full of finger pointing at Vic.

There is no doubt that Allen tried to bribe Vic. But it is not clear to me why it would be necessary when Vic is famous for his pro free enterprise, pro-industry, anti-tax, anti-big government political philosophy. Not only has Vic written consistently in newspapers around the state what amounts to a concise manifesto of 21st Century Laissez-faire, he has courageously voted for it time after time over his political career. Many times the vote tally would be 19 to 1, Vic the prominent dissenter.

Moreover, Vic has voted in favor of free enterprise and against what he called the “Leviathan State” in all areas, not merely oil and gas. Several years ago there came up a bill in the state House to introduce more taxes on, of all things, snow machines. There was not much hue and cry over this small but obviously odious, little tax. Vic spoke and voted against it. This has been his wonderfully consistent pattern for the most part. (I say “for the most part” because Vic has commented to me that now and then, some bills are so confusing and poorly written that it’s hard to tell what they do! So he had to make his best guess.)

Given his open record and consistent voting why do you have to bribe him? You already know which way he will vote. If the bill expands the state or increases taxes, Vic will vote no! If a bill opens up the market or cuts taxes, Vic will blister his finger pressing the yes button!

Thus the Feds can allege Vic accepted bribes from Allen but how will they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is what happened instead of Vic’s insistence that he was accepting gifts from a friend for his daughter? If you KNEW the daughter, it is quite easy to see how this could come about. She is a darling, animated, intelligent, young lady of about 12 now.

There are many subsidiary issues. Was Vic hurting financially? If so, why? Did he ask for a loan from multi-millionaire Bill Allen? Why? If Allen wanted to control Vic, why bribe him and risk jail when a simple and legal loan might have accomplished the same end? I emphasize the word “might.”

After I testify or am taken off the list to testify, I’ll start going in to the court to watch the defense unleash its case. What is not in doubt at this time is the vast sum of money the feds are spending to bring in jurors from all over Alaska, feed and house them as well as the little battalion of FBI agents who have to wait their turn to testify.

All over a guy who who asked the wrong crook for a loan.

Next time we can deal with the really bizarre and banal allegation that Vic got his nephew a job, using his public office illegally to do so! Until then don’t believe what the Feds or Allen say, without the proof in hand. Too many innocent men have been railroaded off to prison on insinuations or gossip, their lives and their loved ones’ lives in tatters, only to find out three years later through DNA or other hard evidence that the guy was innocent all along! Hard proof is a rare commodity.

IL Fettucinni


Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Fred, since you aren't in the court room you didn't hear the government's case about the nephew. I almost talked about your comments to me Monday on this in my post, but didn't.

This is one of those cases where good friends really don't know what happened. The government has laid out - based on the tapes themselves - that shows that Vic asked Allen and Smith about getting his nephew a job. They told him to get in a resume and what to include. Vic got it in to Allen at the Baranof. Smith notified Vic that Aaron got the job. And Vic says he told Aaron. Unless Aaron testifies, with evidence, that he went to Veco and applied himself and did all this himself, your contention that Vic had nothing to do with it is baseless. Oh, one more thing, Aaron was 17 and the requirement was to be 18. Smith said, "They took care of that."

And, as posted yesterday, the job of a lobbyist is to make the legislator believe that he's his best friend. And you can't get a legal loan for $17,000 from a lobbyist, even if he is your best friend.

Defend Vic Now! said...

Aloha Steve,
Vic might have asked the "VECO Crooks" sbout a job for his nephew but I am not sure of did
THEY already bring it up BEFORE that taped conversation? And was Vic merely responding to their suggestion? Or did they tell him about their summer intern program and did Vic naturally ask about whether or not his nephew was elegible?

Aaron probably WILL testify! We shall find out some of my Q's and yours. As to the age requirement I believe that testimony by Scott indicated that when the "VECO Crooks" found out that Aaron would TURN 18 during the summer, they admitted this was OK.

As to the legality of borowing money from a lobbiest...I a) am unaware of the specifics of this claim, b) thought of Allen and Smith as VECO brass and do not and did not know if they were registed lobbiests or not. So more research is in order.


Aloha Nui Loa,

IL Fettucinni

Steve said...

These tapes were all made before Allen and Smith knew they were being taped.

Joyce Anderson today defined "something of value" as stuff that has to be reported and is monitored, and in the list of examples was "loans".