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Will ex-Rep. William Jefferson Take the Stand in His Own Defense?

Drum roll please. And now the moment some of you have been waiting for: Will ex-Rep. William Jefferson take the stand on his own behalf? The defense is expected to begin presenting its case later this week and will have to decide if it’s best to put Jefferson on the stand. Some politicians have done more damage than good by taking the stand and acting arrogant. Jefferson is not likely to come off as arrogant, but he may have to do some serious dancing to get around some tough questioning by prosecutors under cross examination.

Jefferson's Atty. Robert Trout Has Tough Decision to Make/law firm photo
Jefferson’s Atty. Robert Trout Has Tough Decision to Make/law firm photo

By Jonathan Tilove
New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — William Jefferson and his legal team now face the most difficult and fateful decision of his trial: whether the former nine-term Democratic congressman from New Orleans should take the stand in his own defense.

“It’s the last decision you make, ” said James Neal, a prominent Nashville, Tenn., defense attorney. “It’s just a terrible decision to make because the case then turns on it. You can forget about everything else that came before in the case. The case now depends on how well the defendant does.”

Atlanta lawyer Jerome Froelich agreed that the stakes could not be higher for Jefferson.

“What I always fear is that once you put the defendant on the stand, it changes the burden from, ‘did they prove their case?’ to ‘do I believe the defendant?’ ” Froelich said.

Neal represented former Gov. Edwin Edwards in his 1985 racketeering trial. Edwards took the stand. The jury voted 11-1 to acquit. On retrial, Edwards was acquitted.

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