Judge Stranded

As Symington finishes his grueling cross-examination, judge tarries with jury instructions

"And you signed this letter immediately below the false statement, right?" Schindler asked.

Symington rejected Schindler's contention, saying it was not a false statement and added, "I don't even remember reading that particular line."

Schindler turned his focus to the Mercado, and the attempted extortion charge. Schindler rattled off a series of accusatory questions claiming Symington threatened to financially ruin the Mercado if the lenders, the union pension funds, filed a public foreclosure notice.

Relying heavily on notes prepared by the pension funds' money managers, Schindler accused Symington of using his position as governor in an attempt to pressure the pension funds to release Symington from a $10 million personal guarantee to repay the Mercado loan. The pension funds never released Symington from the guarantee and eventually won a $10 million judgment.

Suddenly, Symington's memory became crisp, and he denied the charges in the most heated exchange of the trial. Symington testified the notes by the union representatives documenting the alleged attempted extortion were "full of errors."

"Well, but you didn't take notes, did you, sir?" Schindler countered.
"No, I did not. But I know what I did and what I didn't do," Symington testified.

"Or if you did take notes, you've never produced them, did you?" Schindler countered.

"Mr. Schindler, I did not take notes," Symington replied.
The testimony left Symington exhausted. Moments before returning to the stand to face Schindler for the last time, Symington sat hunched over in his chair, head bowed, eyes focused on the floor.

Although Symington's defenses have been riddled, there is still hope for the governor.

Dowd last week began hyping his "Hail Mary" defense to reporters. (Ironically, for an attorney who continually growls at the press, Dowd has tried to try the case in the media.)

His last-ditch strategy? None of this matters.
Symington's financial statements don't matter. The valuations he placed on them don't matter. The banks didn't care and were just "papering their files" with Symington's statements to keep the dreaded "regulators" happy.

In other words, according to Dowd, the last 13 weeks of testimony have been a waste of time and the 22-count indictment is baloney.

"It's all a bunch of crap," Dowd exhorts.
How's that for a $3 million legal defense?
It might work.

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