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Tag: opening statements

Some Legal Observers Say Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Trial No Sure Thing

Some legal observers are starting to raise questions about the Rep. William Jefferson case. Some say there’s no guarantee of victory for the prosecution. Jefferson has some top notch defense attorneys. Even so, with the former Congressman facing 16 counts, there’s a good chance, even if the jury is conflicted, it might strike up a compromise and convict on only a few counts, thinking its giving Jefferson a break, not realizing it will only take one felony conviction to send him off to prison. Whatever the case, we’ll soon know the answer. Opening statements begin Tuesday.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Rep. Jefferson/official photo

Rep. Jefferson/official photo

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — When Peter Zeidenberg, a Washington lawyer and former prosecutor, read about the 2007 indictment of then-Congressman William Jefferson, he figured the Justice Department had a pretty strong case.

Now, he and some other prominent legal experts believe that the Jefferson corruption trial, although unlikely to end in acquittal, could produce a hung jury. A guilty verdict requires all 12 jurors to agree.

After three days of jury selection last week, the trial begins in earnest Tuesday with opening statements from the prosecution and defense.

When the government filed its 16-count corruption indictment in June 2007, alleging that the New Orleans Democrat had demanded and, in some cases, received bribes in return for his help promoting projects in Western Africa, Jefferson’s prospects looked grim.

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