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Fed Judge in William J. Jefferson Trial Expresses Frustration at Pace

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson

By Rachel Leven
ticklethewire.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The federal judge in the public corruption trial of ex-Rep. William J. Jefferson chided the government Monday, saying it needed to do a better job focusing its case.

“You, the government, need to focus sharply this case,” said  U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.

Ellis also criticized the defense for some of its line of  questioning during cross examination of a key government witness and remarked:

“If this case lasts six weeks it will certainly be contrary to my intentions.”

The judge’s remarks came in frustration to the pace of the trial, which is expected to last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Jefferson, 62,  faces 16 public corruption counts including taking bribes and bribing a foreign official.

On Monday, the defense spent time questioning  a government’s key witness Vernon L. Jackson, the president of iGate, a Kentucky company that Jefferson had a financial interest in, and tried to promote in Africa. Jackson is serving a 7 year and 3 month sentence for bribing Jefferson.

Jackson has offered his opinions on the stand, saying his  payments to Jefferson and his family were bribes. But Judge Ellis said it was irrelevant whether any of the witnesses  considered their acts bribes  He said it essentially came down to whether the acts fit the bribery statutes.

Trial resumed  this afternoon with the defense continuing its cross examination of Vernon Jackson.

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