Countdown to Mack corruption trial - 35 days: City attorney weighs in on Mack's trial
By Shaheed M. Morris, For The Trentonian
Monday, December 2, 2013
TRENTON — With one month and a few days left until Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack’s public corruption trial begins, the mayor’s defense took a major blow when U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp denied the defense’s request to toss out all wiretap evidence.
Mark G. Davis, a court-appointed attorney representing the mayor, filed several pretrial motions, but out of the 14 he submitted only a few went in his favor. Judge Shipp denied four motions; two were deferred to a later date.
This is Davis’ first time representing an elected official on corruption charges in federal court. In an interview with The Trentonian in his South Broad Street office, Dwaine A. Williamson, a local criminal defense attorney, said Davis’ inexperience in federal court won’t be an issue.
“Davis isn’t as green as people keep saying,” Williamson said. “There’s not much of a difference in state cases compared to federal cases besides the laws. Davis is an extremely smart guy and will do everything possible to give the mayor adequate representation.”
When asked if a possible last minute plea deal could be in the works between the defense and government, Williamson said: “A plea deal is always on the table. There’s usually a plea cutoff date before a trial date is set. A judge can overrule the cutoff date, but I strongly believe this case will go to trial.”
The mayor’s attorney stated publicly that the federal prosecutors approached the mayor in January 2011 to become a cooperating witness, but the mayor “blew them off.”
Williamson explained why the mayor may have passed on the offer.
“The feds don’t like to go to trial,” Williamson said. “They run the risk of losing a case. The feds like to bully people with their strong-arm tactics. They will continue to make a plea deal look more enticing.”
Asked what he believes is the best defense scenario for the mayor since the majority of the government’s alleged evidence will stand.
“The defense must be able to put forth a strong and persuasive story to cast some doubt in the jurors’ minds to get a deadlocked jury,” Williamson said. “The defense must win this case in the jury selection.”
Responding to whether or not the race card or an entrapment defense could play a role in the mayor’s trial, he said.
“The race card may come up if it will benefit the client, depending on the demographics of the jury,” Williamson said. “Entrapment defenses are too risky. Even with the government setting up the scheme with a phony developer.”
Williamson offered an inside look on what federal prosecutors will argue.
“The feds will try to overwhelm the jury with their evidence and video surveillance in opening arguments,” he said. “They will spend hours preparing their witnesses.”
As for the defense, Williamson said. “The defense must craft their message into something the jurors can see or hear to counter the government’s large amount of alleged evidence.”
Williamson continued, “In the end, jurors will look at the evidence. The job of a good trial attorney is to poke holes in the government’s argument, and try to sway one juror. It’s all about playing to the jury at this stage.”
However, he said, “The mayor has an uphill battle. I’m sure the mayor’s attorney has some hidden weapons.”
Jury selections will begin on Jan. 6, 2014.
The Trentonian will continue its in-depth coverage leading up to the mayor’s corruption trial during and after. For the latest coverage, check out the countdown updates every day.
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