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Congratulations, Gerry Spence and Geoffrey Fieger!

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Photo John Johnson & Gerry Spence - Virginia criminal lawyerThe powerhouse of John Johnson and Gerry Spence (Aug. 1995, Thunderhead Ranch)

I owe a lot to Gerry Spence. On the one hand, my guru of gurus Steve Rench was the paramount motivator for my attending the Trial Lawyers College. On the other hand, Gerry is the yin to Steve’s yang, completing an essential whole. Among the many things I have learned from Steve is that one does not need to be born with charisma to be a great trial lawyer. Among the many things I learned from Gerry is that even those who come across as powerhouses only get that way by becoming their most powerful real selves and by finding and embracing their pain and fears before sending them on their way.

Gerry also has a knack for assembling people together who will benefit tremendously from it. Among those he has assembled to my benefit are the late, great trial consultant and superhuman John Johnson; psychodrama and trial consulting master Don Clarkson; my Trial Lawyers College friend and roommate Bob Hilliard, who encouraged me by example to take the leap to higher quantum levels of personal and professional success; and acting and trial powerhouse Josh Karton. Also in the assemblage has been Gerry himself. As much as so many people want a piece of Gerry, when I got a chance to walk with him and some others in the early morning hours or to sit with him at the chow hall, he spoke directly to me, as real as could be.

Good karma returned Gerry’s way as he won a full acquittal for his client Geoffrey Fieger today for this trial that he told the jury would be his last. Fieger and his law partner Vernon Johnson were accused of violating federal campaign contribution limits in donating over $100,000 to John Edwards’ 2004 presidential race. Yes, other lawyers were on the defense teams for the two defendants. As I understand it, though, Gerry took the lead.

Several play-by-plays of the trial were posted on the Trial Lawyers College listserv. The one that grabbed me the most was the description of Gerry as approaching the jury rail for each cross examination, gliding his hand along the length of the rail, and strumming it with his fingers at the end, both as perhaps a good luck tap and also as a way to draw the jurors into him and to eliminate any physical barriers between Gerry and the jury.

Apparently under new federal court rules, ordered trial transcripts will be posted to PACER after ninety days. I imagine that plenty of people will wish to order the transcript, and that it will consequently be posted on PACER. Here are some of the key documents filed in the case:

– The lengthy case docket.

– The superseding indictment.

– Fieger’s motion in limine.

– Prosecution’s motion in limine, including concerning jury nullification arguments.

– Fieger’s denied motion to transfer trial, after jury questionnaire responses showed how many potential jurors passionately dislike Fieger.

– Fieger’s denied motion to dismiss the prosecution for violations of the jury selection and service act.

– Joint jury questionnaire.

– Fieger’s proposed jury voir dire.

– Fieger’s proposed jury instruction on burden of proof.

How often do jurors hug acquitted defendants? See just that happening between Fieger and a juror. Gerry and Fieger apparently are close friends, and hugging — both literally and figuratively — permeates the Trial Lawyers College.

Congratulations, Gerry and the defendants, on this victory! Jon Katz