On Friday morning, prosecution and defense attorneys presented final arguments to the jury of five white men, two white women, two black women, two Latino women and one Asian man.
In much the same style as their opening arguments, both sides portrayed Turner in decidedly opposite ways.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ridgeway said Turner’s blog posting that the federal appeals judges “deserved to be killed” was “undoubtedly a serious expression to inflict injury.”
Defense lawyer Nishay Sanan countered by comparing Turner to such shock jocks as Howard Stern and Don Imus.
“Giving your opinion is not a crime,” said Sanan of Turner’s blog posting that the judges “deserved to be killed.”
Besides free speech advocates, the trial is being watched closely by terrorism experts
TO FULL ARTICLE
Jury expected to get case of North Bergen right wing shock jock Hal Turner today
Friday, December 4, 2009
BY MIKE KELLY
Both sides are scheduled to present closing arguments this morning, and U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter told jurors they should expect to begin deliberations after lunch.
The prosecution and defense on Thursday abruptly rested after two days of testimony. One reason for the quick end to testimony was a decision earlier by Judge Walter to bar prosecutors from introducing evidence of Turner’s other alleged threats against judges, legislators and other government officials.
Nonetheless, the abrupt cut off of testimony was an unexpected development in Turner’s contentious and logistically complicated trial.
Walter initially scheduled the proceedings to last up to seven days. But prosecutors and defense lawyers privately said the trial could run as much as two weeks, possibly longer.
Alan L. Zegas, a prominent New Jersey criminal defense attorney, said it is “unusual, particularly for a federal case,” to be over so quickly.
“A day and a half of testimony is about as short a federal trial as I have ever seen,” Zegas said.
Defense lawyers opted not to call any witnesses, even though they subpoenaed Governor-elect Chris Christie, the former U.S. attorney in Newark, and his successor Paul Fishman in the hope of showing that federal law enforcement officials routinely declined to pursue possible charges against Turner for his numerous threats on air and on his blog.
“I’m relieved,” said Christie at a Trenton press conference when told he would not be called as a witness.
In Newark, federal prosecutors previously acknowledged they monitored Turner for several years but never reached the point of prosecuting him. The charges against Turner were filed by federal prosecutors last June in Chicago.
On Thursday, Christie disputed claims by Turner’s defense team that he issued a broad order not to prosecute Turner when he ran the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark.
“No, no general blanket decision,’ Christie said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan, one of the three-member team of prosecutors assigned to the Turner case, declined to comment on why prosecutors ended testimony after calling only six witnesses.
Meanwhile, defense lawyers said they weighed calling Turner to the stand – and, indeed, said they opted to not call any witnesses only moments before Judge Walter summoned the jury and called the court to order after lunch for Thursday’s afternoon session.