Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Attorneys Debate Jury Instructions

In an hour and forty-five minute conference today, the attorneys involved in the Jensen/Schultz case agreed on instructions for jurors when the case is turned over to them tomorrow.

The final witness in the case, former ARC employee Paul Tessmer, will be called at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow by Schultz's attorney, Morgan. Judge Steven Ebert set a tentative time of 1 p.m. for closing arguments, and estimated the jury may get the case by 5 p.m.

One point Ebert said jurors will be instructed on is that some evidence applies only to Jensen and not to Schultz. Another is that political activity includes campaign fundraising, maintenance of campaign finance reports, and recruitment of candidates.

Ebert said he was concerned that the defense may try to make a "mistake" argument in their closing, in particular that the charges were a result of a flaw in the criminal law.

Ebert said he has heard some testimony that brought up the mistake argument, such as a witness saying they were unaware of the law. But for either defense lawyer to make the mistake argument would be unwise, he warned. "I would think it would be contrary to the law to argue mistake or fashion your argument around that," he said.

"Just keep your arguments to the facts that you believe are proven," he advised.

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