Inside the Jury Box

The people who judged Symington look back with certainty, compassion

NT: "The exhibits and the indictment did what?"
Cotey: "Pardon?"
NT: "'Only by the exhibits and the indictment,' what do you mean?"

Cotey: "Well, the indictment is the prosecutor's case. They redid the prosecution's case all the way through. They never took [consideration] of anything that we had sat in the courtroom for that 19 weeks. Never considering what was done in the courtroom during deliberations."

NT: "Was there something in the courtroom during the trial that convinced you Symington was not guilty?"

Cotey: "Ah, several things besides their treatment of me in there. By not allowing me to have my opinion, and not sitting there long enough and letting me explain one by one. They were all throwing different questions at me at different times. Some of it seemed to be a number of them getting together and a lot, most of it was [an] individual that would come out and ask a question that was bothering them. Then I would come out and try to explain to that person, and somebody would interrupt me right in the middle of it."

NT: "Aside from the deliberations, [explain] something that happened during the course of the trial that made you believe that Symington was not guilty. During the exhibits and testimony."

Cotey: "Concentration and complete reliance on the exhibits with no discussion about the witnesses that were up there. And I didn't see any witnesses that really honestly came at him except the pension-funds guy. Nobody actually came after him. They lent credence to what the prosecution had said in the courtroom. 'Well, did you know that this could be detrimental to your bank?' And they all [various bankers] said, 'No.'

"'Knowing now what you know now, would you have liked to have known?' Sure as hell we all like to read the future. I thought that was a stupid question, but they gave the only answer they could. Sure they would have been interested at the time if they knew. But they were blaming him for something that was running in the system at the time in the bank world, and the real estate conditions.

"And, by the way, there's another way where Bill [Carlson, jury foreman] lied. He said I called him [Symington] an artist. I never did. The only one I would call an artist would be Bill. [Carlson insists he remembers Cotey making the statement.]

"Because I called him [Symington] a visionary. A visionary and also, I didn't mean that so complimentary. What I meant was there are dreamers and there are doers. If you get the two together, you might have a whole person, but usually they bend one way or another. And he had visions of what the real estate market was like at the time, and you had to up your value of it because if you can pull this off--are you taping me?"

NT: "I'm listening to every word you are saying."
Cotey: "Yeah, you are taping me. Because a visionary has to imagine in the conditions that stand, that exist right today. What would I do with this? They never can, or are allowed to, or equipped to, I don't know what it is, to vision what if changes were made in this or that or the other, tomorrow. What would it be?

"So he had to have an inflated price at different reasons. I can see that. I can see that.

"And then work from that. And then we get all the financial statements again. Which, as I said before, if I was paying all those girls that much money, and men, that much money for salaries, I expect them to do their work and know what they are handling when they hand it up to you.

"Janice [Pettes, a juror] says to me, 'Well, did you have to know when you were working figures?' I said, 'Certainly I did.' But I had to find out where my boss was coming from first because he had the future plans, I didn't."

NT: "What was your impression of all these financial statements? Why did he have all these multiple financial statements for the same time period?"

Cotey: "Hey, why am I answering all your questions when you gave me such a hard time there? That cartoon, I got a cartoon for you right now."

NT: "Do you?"
Cotey: "Yeah. You'll love it."
NT: "Good."

Cotey: "I thought about it around Christmas time. It was the only way I could exorcise you from my brain."

NT: "Okay."
Cotey: "The title is 'Visions of a sugar plum danced in his head.' And down below there is a fireplace and a kettle on it and a slatternly woman. And on the floor, on a dirty blanket is a little baby. And coming out of his mouth are these words, some of those words that were in your article there [a staff-written spoof of Cotey's "trial diary"]. It doesn't make a pretty picture, but it's got your work. I got even personally."

NT: "Okay."
Cotey: "I didn't [have the cartoon] publicized, okay?"
NT: "Okay."

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