Tuesday, January 25, 2005
According to an AP story, opening statements in the trial of Bernie Ebbers had the prosecution and defense presenting very different sides to events. The government presented a scenario that "Bernard Ebbers told 'lie after lie after lie' about the crumbling state of WorldCom Inc. in an obsessive drive to meet Wall Street expectations and keep its stock price high." The defense, however, according to the AP story presented Ebbers "as a self-made corporate hero who never had an inkling of the massive fraud carried out by others on his watch." Reid Weingarten, Ebbers' lead trial counsel, made the point that "[t]here are zillions of documents in this case and there ain't one smoking gun." The article notes that the case may come down to "the testimony of Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to fraud in 2002 and agreed to testify against his former boss."
Cooperating witnesses are common in federal criminal trials and are not exclusive to white collar crime cases. For example, one finds cooperating witnesses at the heart of many drug prosecutions. Whether the accused had the intent to commit the crime is very often the focal point in a white collar crime case. This case will have the jury determining the knowledge of the accused and the evaluation may perhaps hinge on the credibility of a witness.