Monday, September 09, 2019

Greatest opening ever?

“Good afternoon, grand jury. What I want to say ... I don’t believe I did anything wrong. And thank you, USA.”

That was Yujing Zhang's entire opening statement this morning before Judge Altman. The post below covers the craziness that happened with her clothing before trial started.

Michael Sherwin, a good guy and smart prosecutor, has the unenviable task of trying a case against a pro se defendant. The Herald covered his opening:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin, one of two prosecutors, told the jury that Zhang had lied multiple times to Secret Service agents and Mar-a-Lago staff in order to gain entry for a charity event, even though she learned the gala had been canceled days earlier.

The prosecutor told the 12-person jury that Zhang gave a variety of misleading explanations to agents and staff before her arrest. Among them: that she had come to the president’s Palm Beach club to use the pool, that she had been invited to a United Nations Chinese-American Association event, and finally that she wished to engage in trade and economic negotiations with Trump and his daughter, Ivanka.

“In no way was this defendant authorized to be there,” Sherwin said. “She lied multiple times.”

The prosecutor said that after Zhang’s arrest. federal agents discovered evidence on her iPhone 7 showing she had received text messages while she was still in China saying the Mar-a-Lago event on March 30 was canceled.

Zhang received the bad news in two “We Chat” messages on March 18 and March 26 from a person she had paid to make the arrangements for her, Sherwin said. Zhang was upset and texted back: “I want a refund.” Despite the cancellation, Zhang left for the United States two days later on March 28.
Even the first witness had a memorable moment:
Prosecutors presented their case chronologically, including testimony by a cab driver who said he took a woman who looked like Zhang to the area around Mar-a-Lago on March 29, the day before her arrest.

Willy Isidore said he picked up the woman at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach and she asked him to give her a ride to Mar-a-Lago.

“She said she didn’t have an invitation,” Isidore testified. “I told her, ‘If you don’t have an invitation, you can’t get in.’ ”

Instead, he drove her to the neighborhood around Trump’s private club. He said the woman was talking on her cell phone and taking pictures the whole time.

When he brought her back to the Colony Hotel, Isidore said the woman asked for a receipt and he gave her his business card.

“She told me her name was Veronica,” Isidore testified.

But when asked if he could recognize the woman by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia, Isidore flubbed the question.

“Maybe,” he said, sitting less than 10 feet away from Zhang in the courtroom. “I’m not sure.”

Zhang did not cross-examine Isidore, missing an opportunity to challenge his credibility.
The Herald says that she missed the opportunity to challenge his credibility, but she actually did the right thing here. If she gets up and crosses the guy, he might then recognize her. Sometimes "no questions" is the right move.


Anonymous said...

earl rogers said...

I saw an opening statement in a State Court case where the prosecutor said only four words--"caught in the act."

Rumpole said...

Nah...."everyting dat guy just said is bulshit"
Vincent LaGuardia, jr, Esq.
My Cousin Vinny.

That's the best opening ever. But she wasn't bad. I've seen a lot worse.

Anonymous said...

This is actually a sad case. I like how the Herald reports that she had an "unexceptional education" and the AUSA argued that she was highly educated. I guess we live in a post-truth world.