Monday, June 12, 2006

Defense: Witness Recall of Key Meeting Unclear

Hurley said there was one thing the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt -- that no one could recall what precisely was said in that March 3, 2005 meeting.

Witnesses testified that Thompson said something about political considerations in regard to the contract, but "nobody remembers the same words," Hurley said.

"They remember not their words, but impressions," he said.

Specifically, Hurley attempted to cast doubt on Ian Thomas' testimony. He said when prosecuting attorneys asked him to repeat what he recalled Thompson saying, Thomas "shifted from side-to-side in his seat."

The night before the meeting, Thompson realized that she had been unfair to Adelman's presenters and graded them on factors not present in the RFP. "She scored style over substance," he said, adding she was afraid the mistake would cause her to have to throw out four years of work.

To describe what happened the next day at the meeting, Hurley said, "I can only quote from Cool Hand Luke, 'What we have here is a failure to communicate.'"

When committee member Lisa Clemmons suggested the best and final offer process to resolve the dispute, "Georgia grabbed that as a lifeline," Hurley admitted.

And, he said, while the meeting was very contentious, the members seemed to be in agreement by the end that the best and final stage should be carried out.

But soon complaints began, and when two commissioners went to Thompson's supervisor Helen McCain to raise their concerns with her, McCain told them to reconvene the committee and air them out.

"But they didn't do that," Hurley said. "What they did was start acting like a high school clique picking on someone who offended them."

As for the interview with WKOW-TV, Hurley said Thompson's statements are consistent with her court testimony. Except, he said, "she had the good sense not to air her suspicions and air her dirty laundry on Channel 27 like the others had."

Concluding his nearly hour-long summation, Hurley strode back to the defense table, where he put his arm on Thompson's shoulder and reminded them of McCain's words. "Georgia Thompson is what all of us should want in a public employee,' he said.

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