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Manafort Trial: Judge Keeps the Reins Tight

The judge in the Paul Manafort trial is keeping a tight reign on the prosecution. According to Fox News, the judge told Team Mueller today they would not be able to prove conspiracy without calling Rick Gates. Prosecutors began floating the idea yesterday Gates might not testify.

Manafort's defense seems to be that Gates did all the bad stuff.

Manafort is being tried in the Eastern District of Virginia. He is charged with tax and bank fraud crimes. From a brief the Government filed today (Doc. 193): [More...]

Specifically, the superseding indictment charges Manafort with subscribing to false income tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1) (Counts 1-5); failing to file reports of foreign bank accounts, in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5314, 5322(a) (Counts 11-14); and bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344, 1349 (Counts 24-32).

The Government intends to prove:

Manafort failed to pay taxes on millions of dollars in unreported income from payments that he received into foreign bank accounts he controlled. He used that unreported income in those foreign accounts to pay for goods and services, purchase United States real estate and make improvements to and refinance United States properties.

Further, Manafort, after his income dropped precipitously in 2014, resorted to taking out bank loans through fraud, in order to maintain his expensive lifestyle. Manafort fraudulently secured more than $20 million in loans by falsely inflating his and his company’s income and by failing to disclose existing debt in order to qualify for the loans.

The Government wants to admit photos of Manafort's excessive lifestyle, and the judge so far is not buying the Government's argument that demonstrative evidence of Manafort's wealth and lifestyle are relevant to prove Manafort's intent and motive to evade taxes.

The Government is also using testimony of vendors who sold goods to Manafort to make their case. They argue:

The evidence of the vendor payments is relevant in several ways. The manner in which the expenditures occurred is relevant to proving that Manafort acted willfully. The funds used to pay the vendors came directly from the unreported foreign bank accounts where Manafort deposited his foreign consulting income. Thus, Manafort’s practice of paying his vendors directly with his offshore funds was designed to hide the underlying income from his bookkeepers and return preparers, and ultimately the IRS.

....The vendor evidence tends to establish that Manafort knew he had overseas accounts at the time that he filed his personal tax returns in which he stated that he did not have any such accounts. The fact that the foreign accounts were being used to pay for millions of dollars in personal items plainly makes it less likely that he forgot or made a mistake when he did not report the accounts. This evidence is thus also relevant to Manafort’s failure to report his foreign bank accounts on FBARs.

Where does Gates fit in? The Government states:

Further, that Manafort was personally dealing with the vendor payments, directing what personal items would be purchased and paid for from untaxed income, tends to negate one of the defense’s central arguments – that the vendor payments were made by Gates.

The Government also says:

The government must also show that the Manafort’s personal tax returns were false by failing to report personal income ....Evidence showing that Manafort directed the money toward his own purchases establishes the status of the money as income to Manafort as opposed to business expenses or benefits to some other third party.

The Government claims Manafort hit an economic slump in 2014 when his international business income fell off, leading him to commit bank fraud:

Finally, that Manafort had an expensive lifestyle that required lots of money to maintain is important proof as to why he would commit the bank frauds. When Manafort’s income declined in 2014, he resorted to bank fraud as a means to maintain his lifestyle. Indeed, the government is entitled to refute the common argument that a wealthy person has no need to commit bank fraud, by demonstrating that Manafort had grown accustomed to his material wealth. Accordingly, evidence of Manafort’s purchases, real estate, and real estate improvements is relevant under Fed. R. Evid. 401.

The Government tells the judge in its brief that ".... presenting evidence of Manafort’s transactions entirely through witness testimony could expose the government to appellate risk."

The Judge also doesn't want the prosecution using the word "oligarch." He said it's pejorative. The Government filed a 23 page amended exhibit list today listing 451 exhibits. Some of the exhibits are memos to "oligarchs" like V. Yanukovych and Oleg Deripaska and R. Akhmetov. Manafort's tax returns for one of his an dhis wife's companies a $10 million loan from a Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a metals magnate who is reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Shorter version from Bloomberg News:

[T]he trial will feature competing portraits of Manafort, a veteran political consultant who made more than $60 million from 2010 to 2014 advising Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Mueller intends to prove that Manafort failed to report most of that money on his tax returns and instead funneled it through foreign accounts, including in Cyprus, to disguise it as loans from offshore shell companies to fund a tax-free lifestyle. Prosecutors will try to cast Manafort as a globe-trotting, cash-hungry villain bent on skirting the law. Through documents and witnesses, they’ll aim to show that Manafort micromanaged the fraud, deciding which financial details to fudge or withhold from his bookkeepers and accountants.

...Manafort’s defense appears to be building its case around the notion that Manafort was too busy as an international rainmaker to pay attention to the financial details of his consulting business. Instead, he mistakenly trusted his bookkeepers, tax accountants, and, crucially, Gates, his right-hand man. Manafort’s lawyers have made clear their intent to portray Gates as the real mastermind, alleging that he stole millions of dollars from the company by claiming fake bonuses and expenses. And when Mueller’s net closed around him, they said, he made up stories to avoid prison time.

Manafort is also expected to attack the testimony from two of his accountants who received immunity in exchange for their cooperation.

Manafort isn't done after this trial. In September, he goes to trial in D.C.

Manafort faces a second trial on Sept. 17 in Washington that will examine how he lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of Yanukovych and his party. He’s charged in that case with money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say he and a former aide with ties to Russian intelligence tried to tamper with witnesses who could testify about their unregistered lobbying in Washington.

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  • Display: Sort:
    The jury always believes the bookkeeper (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 03:31:38 PM EST


    In a filing Friday morning, (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by KeysDan on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 01:30:46 PM EST
    the Mueller prosecutors asked Judge Ellis to tell the jury to disregard a comment he made on Thursday during a witness testimony about alleged bank fraud conspiracy that the attorneys "might want to spend time on a loan that was granted."

    The prosecutors wrote that the judge's comment "misrepresents the law regarding bank fraud conspiracy, improperly conveys the court's opinion of the facts, and, is likely to confuse and mislead the jury."

    The prosecutors want Judge Ellis to explain that the jury is not to consider the court' comment and that loans that Manafort fraudulently  applied for, but did not receive, are relevant to the charges in the indictment.

    With the unexplained delay on Friday, perhaps due to a juror issue, the complaint was not taken up by the Judge on Friday.  Maybe, since this would be the second "I may be wrong" apologia by the judge last week, the prosecutors are giving (undeserved, but pragmatic) face saving, so long as the judge addresses the issue in jury instructions.    

    I have to say, when I read about that (5.00 / 7) (#55)
    by Peter G on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 09:25:01 PM EST
    remark by the judge, I was dumbfounded. It is 180 degrees wrong as a matter of federal wire fraud, bank fraud, and false statements law. As the judge must surely know. I hate to have to say it, but the prosecutors are completely right here.

    Parent
    You say it's your birthday? (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 04:35:56 PM EST
    A tv prosecutor says the fact the jury is requesting a birthday cake for one of the jurors is good news for the prosecutors because, she said, a happy collegial jury is good for the state.

    Because 12 votes to acquit in this case is almost impossible but 12 votes to convict is possible and more likely with a cooperative jury.

    Thought that was interesting

    Jury trial (none / 0) (#3)
    by linea on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 07:48:15 PM EST
    Re: `Because 12 votes to acquit in this case is almost impossible'

    The defendant doesn't need 12 votes for acquittal. He needs one juror unconvinced the government has proven their case.

    Parent

    or, as provided by law, (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 09:20:07 PM EST
    the defendant needs 12 votes of "not guilty" for an acquittal. A hung jury (less than unanimous agreement) in this case means a retrial, almost certainly -- depending of course on what happens at the other trial, in the court in D.C.

    Parent
    Of course (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 09:31:02 PM EST
    The point of my comment as outlined by the prosecutor is that if they are having birthday parties the "one holdout" was less likely.

    I have no idea if this is true or not

    As I said, interesting

    Parent

    I really don't think that means a thing (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 09:41:01 PM EST
    on the second or third day. The question, as far as the outcome of deliberations being unanimous or not is concerned, is how the jurors are getting along after two weeks. Well, that and how persuasive the evidence is.

    Parent
    I'm not a fan (none / 0) (#7)
    by linea on Thu Aug 02, 2018 at 10:53:39 PM EST
    Re: `A hung jury... in this case means a retrial, almost certainly'

    I read, approximately one-third of the cases that produce hung juries get retried.

    I'm against retrial to `get a win' by the prosecution and feel there should be limits. Certainly, a second trial is sufficient and a third or subsequent `bite of the apple' should be prohibited.

    Perhaps a panel of three judges should unanimously approve before a second trial takes place. Or perhaps a three judge panel must have proof of new evidence before a second trial takes place. I'm also not opposed to a rule that a hung jury is the equivalent of an acquittal (like Denmark).


    Parent

    the advantage to a mistrial (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 03, 2018 at 01:38:42 AM EST
    because of a hung jury is the govt will often offer a better plea deal to avoid having to try it again. Of course, that didn't work for Rod Blagojevich -- he was convicted of one 5 year count at his first trial and the jury hung on the rest. The Govt. retried him and he got 14 years. But it did for John Edwards -- the jury found him not guilty on one count and hung on five other counts. The govt. decided to drop it.

    Parent
    Until the 1930s, the Territory of Hawaii ... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Aug 04, 2018 at 06:26:35 AM EST
    ... had a law that had been grandfathered from the Kingdom's days, which stated that the second consecutive mistrial / hung jury on the same charge would result in a defendant's automatic acquittal on said charge, which of course legally precluded prosecutors from seeking any further retrials. That always made sense to me, and I don't know why the territorial legislature repealed it.

    Parent
    Anyone see anything new and interesting (none / 0) (#10)
    by Peter G on Mon Aug 06, 2018 at 08:49:11 PM EST
    in the reporting on Gates' testimony at the Manafort trial?

    Wow! (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by linea on Tue Aug 07, 2018 at 08:01:13 PM EST
    Manafort is really bad at money laundering and tax fraud. At the least, I would have expected Manafort to hide monies in shell companies with dedicated accountants located in the Ukraine, Belarus, and Czechia. Instead, he tried to hide the loot he got from Russian Ukrainians in Cyprus bank accounts and is trying to blamie Gate's for the millions of dollars he pocketed. He should have taken a plea deal.

    Parent
    The incompetence, short-sightedness, (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 08, 2018 at 09:08:23 AM EST
    and stupidity of Trump and all the opportunistic enablers, angle-shooters, grifters, cowards, and bootlickers he's surrounded himself with have been our saving graces.  

    We'd be in a heckuva lot worse shape if this cast of nefarious characters were sharper than a rack of bowling balls.

    Parent

    Correcto kdog . (none / 0) (#14)
    by fishcamp on Wed Aug 08, 2018 at 12:13:44 PM EST
    Those two total grifters deserve a room together in the gray bar hotel.  And not one of the camps either, they need to have a sledgehammer and start breaking up rocks.  Maybe start with the ones in their heads.

    Parent
    Two more... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 08, 2018 at 01:44:49 PM EST
    who really wish Trump lost the election...they probably would not have ended up in Mueller's crosshairs were it not for the dump that clogged the world's toilet.

    To paraphrase the typical Scooby-Doo villian...and we would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling Russian hacker-kids, a handful of swing-state goobers, and an establishment opposition candidate in anti-establishment weather!

    Parent

    Since when have Congress critters (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 11:28:13 AM EST
    Been busted hard for all their insider trading? What exactly is the line crossed here? Being too obvious? DC is now so lawless we're hiring a Sheriff or two?

    Fine, I'm all for some Sheriffing around here. But FARA violations have occurred in plain sight for years, law makers insider trading was pretty obvious too.

    This stanky cesspit didn't pool overnight.

    But hey, don't do that insider trading stuff on the White House lawn mkay? That's a bridge too far or lawn too close or something :)

    Parent

    I thought insider trading laws did not (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 05:54:13 PM EST
    apply to members of Congress.

    Parent
    Extended to cover them (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 07:49:35 PM EST
    By "STOCK Act" in 2012.

    Parent
    How would you know (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by MKS on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 02:35:57 PM EST
    which country is the best place to stash cash?

    Parent
    Hmmmmm! (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Zorba on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 04:40:04 PM EST
    An excellent question.  😏

    Parent
    Simple (4.00 / 1) (#24)
    by linea on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 08:25:33 PM EST
    First, I watched Ozark on Netflix (highly recommended).

    Re: `How would you know which country is the best place to stash cash?'

    I don't actually. But my logic for Ukraine, Belarus, and Czechia is:

    [] At the time, ethnic Russian businessmen involved with Putin and the Russian Mafia were influential in Ukraine and thus hiding monies in Ukraine might be useful and offer some protection.

    [] It is my understanding that many Belarus politicians and businessmen are corrupt and involved with Putin and the Russian Mafia. Thus, hiding monies in Belarus might be useful and offer some protection.

    [] Having these shell companies and the accountants for these companies in non-EU countries limits the ability of the US Govt to subpoena documents or the accounts.

    [] Why Czechia as the third country? The shell companies in Ukraine and Belarus need to be able to transfer funds to an EU country and the EU country that I understand to be most plagued with Russian Mafia influence (particularly in the areas of drug distribution, human trafficking, and sexual slavery) is Chechia.

    That's my logic. I've never been to Ukraine, Belarus, or Chechia.

    Parent

    Well, the Judge and Prosecutor Had a Tiff (none / 0) (#11)
    by RickyJim on Tue Aug 07, 2018 at 09:20:20 AM EST
    Tension between the judge and the prosecution team boiled over again late Monday as prosecutors attempted to introduce Gates's passport as evidence of his travels to Ukraine and Cyprus. Ellis interrupted them.

    "Let's get to the heart of the matter," he scowled.

    "Judge, we've been at the heart --" Andres interrupted.

    "Just listen to me!" Ellis bellowed from the bench.

    Ellis told Andres that he was looking for ways to "expedite." Andres responded, "We're doing everything we can to move the trial along."

    After sending the jury out of the courtroom, Ellis tore into Andres for what he called unnecessary questions about billionaires involved in Ukrainian politics.

    Andres pushed back angrily, prompting a heated argument that went on for more than 10 minutes.

    Ellis repeatedly criticized Andres for not making eye contact with him, saying, "Look at me" and suggesting that the prosecutor "looked down as if to say, `That's BS.' "

    Andres responded with frustration, saying, "You continue to interpret our reactions in some way," when the lawyers don't do the same to the judge.

    Ellis disputed that he had limited prosecutors significantly or interrupted them often, saying the record would support him on that.

    "I will stand by the record as well," Andres retorted.

    "All right, then you will lose," Ellis responded.


    The judge seems to be right in that the charges in this case are about money laundering and tax evasion, not being cozy with rich Ukrainians.  Is this sort of stuff standard in trials in which you have taken part?

    Parent
    Peter G (none / 0) (#16)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 09:43:03 AM EST
    Would the prosecutors filing request with the judge this morning to have the judge admit he was wrong when he argued with the prosecution team about Michael Welch being in the courtroom help or hinder in the long run?

    Forcing the Judge to admit he made an error (which he did) to the jury sounds like a good way to piss off a Judge. Or is this more common than I think.

    How the jury is responding (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 02:51:09 PM EST
    is much more important to the prosecutors right now than how the judge feels. They already know that the judge doesn't like them or their case; he made that clear (clearer than any judge should, imho) pretrial.

    Parent
    My understanding (none / 0) (#25)
    by linea on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 08:36:35 PM EST
    From cases that Jeralyn has followed on this forum, is that the judge or magistrate scolding or berating the State is meaningless.

    Parent
    Depends on whether the jury was (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 08:40:47 PM EST
    present.  

    Parent
    It is my understanding (none / 0) (#27)
    by linea on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 12:42:31 AM EST
    ... that the reported scoldings by the Magistrate of the State in this case were delivered when the jury were not present.

    It is my impression that Magistrates appear to chastise the State because the Prosecution is in a greater position of power and need to be kept on a tight leash for neutral justice to prevail. Am I wrong?

    Parent

    The "Magistrate of the State" (5.00 / 5) (#30)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:33:37 AM EST
    (or "judge," as we say in the United States of America) is overwhelmingly more likely in a criminal case to exercise discretion in favor of the prosecutors and against the defense, and much more likely to "chastise" defense counsel, all things being equal. This is a natural outgrowth of how we select our judges. It is extremely rare to see a judge, as here, showing bias and unfair demeanor against the government. Indeed, it is remarkable, among the many people I know and associate with on a daily basis for the last 40 years who work in this system, to find a judge who is even neutral and even-handed in the conduct of criminal cases, much less one that tends to favor the defense (which is rare as hens' teeth).

    Parent
    Okay (none / 0) (#34)
    by linea on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 07:59:24 PM EST
    I researched.

    Federal Magistrates are appointed by majority vote of Federal District Judges. Federal Magistrates issue search warrants, arrest warrants, set bail and conditions of release, hold preliminary hearings, conduct evidentiary hearings to suppress evidence in felony cases, and may supervise jury selection in a felony trial. It was a Federal Magistrate who ordered Mariia Butina held without bail. I believe this means she will have a different Judge for trial.

    Magistrates of the various States may be elected or appointed. Typically, they conduct bench trials for misdemeanor offenses, set bail and conditions of release, and preside over small claims court, domestic violence hearings, and juvenile court. In South Carolina, magistrates are appointed by the Governor and preside over both Misdemeanor and Felony criminal cases for offenses that carry a penalty of up to 3 years in State Prison and guilt is decided by six citizen (6) jurors.

    Parent

    President Reagan nominated T.S. Ellis (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 08:58:48 PM EST
    and the U.S. Senate confirmed him.  He is a federal district judge, not a federal magistrate, and he would be highly offended to be deemed a magistrate.

    Parent
    Huh? (1.00 / 4) (#38)
    by linea on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:19:42 PM EST
    Re: `He is a federal district judge, not a federal magistrate'

    I thought that distinction was implied by my posting what defines a Magistrate. Perhaps I'm too subtle for you or perhaps I need to write more simply so you can understand.

    Parent

    Please look back at your original post (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:46:41 PM EST
    and my response. After first correcting your vocabulary, I answered the question that you posed about why the judge seemed to be riding the prosecutors harshly. No one was confused about the definition of "Magistrate" except you, Linnéa, as far as I can see, much less asking for a definition or research project on the subject. That had nothing to do with the developing discussion of Judge Ellis's handling of the Manafort trial, as Oculus rightly pointed out.

    Parent
    I felt I was being chastised (1.00 / 1) (#41)
    by linea on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 10:21:14 PM EST
    On the distinction between Magistrate and Judge with your comment `the "Magistrate of the State" or "judge," as we say in the United States of America' and I felt you were implying I was not a real American. I was somewhat hurt but instead of responding in kind I researched the US usage of Magistrate (which I doubt any non-lawyer on this forum knows) and posted the distinction to show that I'm making an effort to use the correct terms.

    Re: ` I answered the question that you posed about why the judge seemed to be riding the prosecutors harshly.'

    I didn't comment on your explanation because I accepted it as correct. I see now that I need to do more than simply high-5 your posts. I'll try to do a better job of explicitly thanking you when you provide a helpful explanation.

    Parent

    Peter g is the the epitome of a polite commenter. (5.00 / 4) (#43)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 01:19:51 AM EST
    He will speak for himself.  But my impression is that he makes a conscientious effort to  correct misleading comments re legal terminology and issues.

    Parent
    I have no interest in anyone wasting (5.00 / 4) (#47)
    by Peter G on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 11:13:47 AM EST
    one of the available 200 comment opportunities for each thread by posting a "thank you" to me or to anyone else. A rating is more than sufficient. The fact is, Linea, that your writing in English -- while certainly not bad -- is not as good as you seem to think. As aspect of this is that your writing repeatedly reflects that you learned our language in Europe or Great Britain (e.g., "defencive" rather than "defensive") and that it is not your first language. As a result, you occasionally make mistakes in usage and vocabulary that some of us feel the need to correct, not to chastise you or to brand you a second-class citizen (which you are not, as there is no such thing), but to advance the discussion of an issue by improving its clarity.

    Parent
    Sorry!! (none / 0) (#42)
    by linea on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 11:55:28 PM EST
    I obviously misunderstood your post and perhaps the other post I responded to. I feel I am am excellent writer and I get defencive when I am misunderstood, misconstrued, or mischaracterized. I don't feel it's my writing; I feel people are either not reading my posts or are intent on finding some fault. This is the only venue where I have any dificulty being understood and it frustrates me.

    Parent
    A "Magiatrate Judge" (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by MKS on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 09:52:36 AM EST
    in Fedearal Court is the title of a judicial officer junior to a full Judge. A Magistrate is not iirc a full Article III judge.

    In civil cases, a Magistrate handles Discovery disputes, a tedious and lower level task. And all the Magistrate's civil rulings are subject to review by the Judge for whom he works.

    So, linea, you gave this Judge a demotion and given what we know about him, he would be seeing your eyes water up if you made that mistake in person.

    But what is interesting is that not knowing the field you charged ahead anyway. One can make a number of inferences from that.

    Parent

    Yes, that's it (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Yman on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 11:18:46 AM EST
    It's that you are "too subtle" or too complex for the actual lawyers to understand.

    Dear God ...

    Parent

    Perhaps you should not have (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 11:59:02 AM EST
    introduced the term "magistrate."  

    PS.  I do not rely on your research re legal matters.

    Parent

    Why not? (5.00 / 3) (#53)
    by MKS on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 05:55:03 PM EST
    You wouldn't have to have a subscription to Lexis or Westlaw.

    Parent
    May it please the court, Magistrate (none / 0) (#54)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 07:56:18 PM EST
    Judge Ellis, with all due respect,...

    Parent
    short career (none / 0) (#56)
    by MKS on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 09:36:09 PM EST
    Speaking from the prospective of a former (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:07:53 PM EST
    prosecutor, I think your characterization is overly broad.  In my experience, some judges are rude to everyone in the courtroom.  Maybe the term "elevated" causes this?   But most judges, in my experience, are committed to providing a criminal defendant a fair trial.  The judge does not want to be reversed on appeal.  The judge does not want a blanket challenge by the defense bar.  

    Parent
    The chances of being reversed on appeal (none / 0) (#39)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:39:58 PM EST
    even after conducting an unfair trial and committing egregious legal errors are quite small. Speaking as one who has made his living doing almost nothing but criminal appeals for defendants for over 30 years. Perhaps as a former California prosecutor, Oc, you are forgetting that most jurisdictions do not have merit selection of trial judges, and that in almost no other place is there a right to challenge the judge without strong and articulable grounds for recusal.

    Parent
    Perhaps this discussion should also encompass (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 01:22:13 AM EST
    federal habeas petitions.  

    Parent
    I don't have the statistics at hand (none / 0) (#48)
    by Peter G on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 11:18:02 AM EST
    but I am quite sure that in non-capital cases, at least, federal habeas corpus petitions succeed in overturning unfair state-court criminal convictions very rarely, even less frequently than the (well under 10%) success rate of direct appeals.

    Parent
    My friends tweeting about (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 12:05:56 PM EST
    criminal injustice podcasts may have skewered my perspective.

    Parent
    Well (none / 0) (#28)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:01:19 AM EST
    As to part 1 your understanding is wrong.
    As to Part 2, that is an opinion so neither right or wrong.

    Parent
    Judge Has Already Apologized (none / 0) (#17)
    by RickyJim on Thu Aug 09, 2018 at 10:24:28 AM EST
    "I was critical of counsel for ... allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom," he said before testimony began. "You may put that aside... I may well have been wrong."

    On Wednesday, Ellis scolded prosecutors for calling an IRS expert who has sat through the trial in the gallery. Prosecutors filed a motion Thursday morning pointing out that the transcript backed up their understanding that Ellis had explicitly allowed the expert to do so.

    "The Court's sharp reprimand of government counsel in front of the jury on August 8 was therefore erroneous,"  the prosecutors wrote. "And, while mistakes are a natural part of the trial process, the mistake here prejudiced the government by conveying to the jury that the government had acted improperly and had violated court rules or procedures. The exchange could very well lead the jury to reach two erroneous inferences: (a) that Mr. Welch's testimony is not credible because he was improperly privy to the testimony of other witnesses, and (b) that the government sought to secure an unfair advantage by secreting its expert in the courtroom without permission...This prejudice should be cured."

    Ellis said Thursday that he had not actually read the transcript, which was attached to the government motion.

    But, the judge said, "I was probably wrong."

    He added that he makes mistakes, "like any human -- and this robe doesn't make me any more than a human."

    He concluded, "Any criticism of counsel should be put aside -- it doesn't have anything to do with this case."



    Parent
    Prosecution (none / 0) (#29)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:05:25 AM EST
    files to have Judge Ellis correct another issue from yesterday.

    Yesterday's filing got an Arthur Fonzarelli type apology from Ellis.

    It's become the way to start the day.

    Two hours with no testimony (none / 0) (#31)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 10:40:23 AM EST
    and now a 2 hour lunch break. What's cooking behind the scene at the Manafort trial today?

    Juror issue?

    After a five hour delay (none / 0) (#32)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 01:32:36 PM EST
    Day 9 starts with no explanation for the delay.

    Rumors (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 07:16:54 PM EST
    are flying that Paulie Walnuts is looking to cut a deal.

    Parent
    This is the same judge who is constantly (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 10, 2018 at 09:02:14 PM EST
    harassing the prosecutors to move along. What a crock.

    Parent
    Oculus (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by MKS on Sat Aug 11, 2018 at 09:53:50 AM EST
    Remind you of Manny Real?

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    Once again. (none / 0) (#57)
    by KeysDan on Mon Aug 13, 2018 at 01:15:03 PM EST
    Mueller's prosecutors argued in a court filing Monday morning, that just because a bank CEO was aware that Manafort was committing bank fraud doesn't make Manafort's conduct any less fraudulent.

    Based on a bench discussion the prosecutors had with the defense and Judge Eliss on Friday, pertaining to Steve Calk, the CEO of  the Chicago bank, The Federal Savings Bank. and Trump advisor.

    The court questioned whether Manafort's fraudulent representations could be material if the bank's chair and CEO and a significant shareholder of the bank's holding company,intended to grant Manafort the loans regardless.   In the filing, prosecutors argue that the fact that Calk intended to approve the loans for personal reasons (Sec of Army, Treasury, HUd),has no bearing on the materialityof Manafort's representations.

    The filing
    asks Ellis to recognize the lack of merit in any defense argument that Calk's complicity in or awareness of Manafort's fraud renders immaterial as a matter of law, false and fraudulent representatiions.

    The bank is the stated victim of the fraud (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by Peter G on Mon Aug 13, 2018 at 02:11:00 PM EST
    not the president of the bank. I don't see how the bank president's willingness to participate in or overlook Manafort's fraud, for his own personal reasons not having to do with his fiduciary duty to the bank, or with his honest view of the bank's best interests, has any bearing on the materiality of Manafort's misrepresentations.

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    Defense rests (none / 0) (#59)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 11:06:07 AM EST
    without calling a witness. Probably the best way to go when you don't want to open the door to questions about your moral fiber.

    And more important, the judge denied (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 11:42:22 AM EST
    the defense motion for judgment of acquittal. Granting that motion would have been the judge's strongest move to screw the prosecutors, as it would take the case away from the jury and result in a double jeopardy bar to further proceedings on these charges. He did not do that. So now (after closing arguments and legal instructions) the jury will decide whether guilt on these particular charges has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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    I'm (none / 0) (#61)
    by FlJoe on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 11:35:37 AM EST
    curious, how does this look to the jury? From the cheap seats it looks like "we got nothing".

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    Well, the defense will play that move (none / 0) (#63)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 11:44:46 AM EST
    as conveying their view that they (the government), not "we," are the ones who "got nothing" that calls for any response. Whether the jury concurs in that view will be revealed in their verdict.

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    Closing arguments start (and end?) tomorrow (none / 0) (#60)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 11:30:53 AM EST


    This Judge Seems to Mistrust the Written Word (none / 0) (#64)
    by RickyJim on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 02:45:20 PM EST
    Ellis scheduled a session later Tuesday for prosecutors and defense lawyers to argue over what kinds of instructions to give the jury when they begin their deliberations. The judge said he won't be putting the instructions down on paper but will provide the jury with an audio recording in case they want to go back and listen to them again as they consider the charges.

    Ellis also proposed that the jury only be allowed to take into their deliberations the portions of the 37-page Manafort indictment that directly with the charges they're debating.

    Link
    What could be in the indictment that doesn't relate to the charges being considered?  I really take exception to the jury not being given a transcript of the instructions which very often are in gobbledygook.  

    It is odd that the judge wouldn't offer (none / 0) (#65)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 03:12:42 PM EST
    the jury a written copy of his instructions on the governing legal principles. But it is a good thing, in my opinion, that he is not providing the complete indictment, but only the formal charges. Indictments these days are often allowed to include extensive, one-sided accounts of the evidence against the defendant, not necessarily the same as the evidence that was actually admitted at trial, and definitely not including any points made on cross-examination or otherwise favoring the defendant. Such indictments read like a cross between a DoJ press release and a script for the prosecutor's closing argument. It is hard for a jury to remember that an indictment of that sort is "just an accusation" and "not evidence." People tend to believe what they read on an official-looking paper right in front of them over what they think they remember hearing said a few days ago. So I agree with the judge on that one.

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    Peter, in federal criminal trials, does the (none / 0) (#66)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 04:24:01 PM EST
    judge usually give the written jury  instructions to the jury?

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    It's the individual judge's call, but (none / 0) (#67)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 04:37:56 PM EST
    I would say yes, more often than not, in any but the simplest cases. Some judges, however, seem not to believe in it, and insist that the jury return for re-reading of portions, in the event that they have questions.

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    Interesting. Especially in light (none / 0) (#68)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 04:53:31 PM EST
     of this judge's substitution of a recording.

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    That one, I have never (5.00 / 2) (#70)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 05:08:40 PM EST
    heard of before. I wonder whether this judge is such a self-assessed know-it-all that he delivers his instructions orally and extemporaneously, or at least without a final written text before him. I have known in my career of two particularly brilliant (older) judges who did that. (It actually used to be common, 50+ yrs ago.) But they made a lot of errors doing it, and tended to get reversed on appeal quite a bit more than average. It's a reckless thing for a judge to do.

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    Also, at least in CA state court, if the jury (none / 0) (#69)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 04:55:48 PM EST
    sends out a written question as to a matter of law, the judge tells them to read the jury instructions.

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    Interesting judge asked defendant with jury (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 15, 2018 at 10:12:42 AM EST
    present:

    Manafort's decision not to testify and not to call witnesses was announced by his attorney, Kevin Downing, before the jury on Tuesday afternoon. Asked by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III whether he wished to testify in his defense, Manafort responded: "No, sir."  [Star Tribune.]

    The Nail in the Manafort Coffin (none / 0) (#72)
    by CoralGables on Wed Aug 15, 2018 at 10:20:59 AM EST
    from the prosecution during closing arguments via Washington Post:

    Was it possible, he asked facetiously, that Gates or some unknown person had forged Manafort's signature on the accounts, put $60 million in them over time, and then allowed Paul Manafort to use them to buy $15 million in clothes and cars?

    "Does that make any sense at all?" Andres asked the jury. "We should all be so lucky."

    Any guesses? Will the jury (none / 0) (#73)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 16, 2018 at 08:16:29 AM EST
    be back with its verdict(s) today, or Friday?

    Today, guilty on all (none / 0) (#74)
    by KeysDan on Thu Aug 16, 2018 at 09:08:15 AM EST
    counts.  As the prosecution said in the closing statement, the star witness is the documents.  The jury could get tipped over until Friday, if they get hung up on Gates. They do not like him, but, then, who does, other than Manafort, once upon a time?

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    One news article re defense closing (none / 0) (#75)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 16, 2018 at 10:15:01 AM EST
    noted a juror nodding in the affirmative re prosecution's burden of proof.  Maybe meaningless.

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    I suspect it would be difficult (none / 0) (#76)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 16, 2018 at 10:45:18 AM EST
    to go through all 18 before the end of the day today.

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