NJ Voices: Prosecutor hoisted ex-mayor on his words
She had them at “thievery.”
It was the first word prosecutor Judith Germano uttered in her five-hour closing last week — a one-word master stroke that gave jurors a simple way of wrapping up all the conflicting testimony and all the confusing documents and giving it all a name.
The genius of the ploy: She used a speech given by James himself in 2004, when he pressed in Trenton for a law to limit the power of city councils to sell city-owned land. This is what James said — and what Germano read to the jury:
“This is horrible. We have council people who are saying: I won’t be here forever, but if I can send a million dollars worth of municipal property to my boyfriend, girlfriend, mama, poppa, brother or friend or organization, well, if I want this, I’ll go get it.
“This law is needed to ensure that we protect the public trust, that we do not allow thievery with municipal property.”
If James himself thought helping a “girlfriend” to city property was thievery, the jurors could have thought, then why should we argue?
Excellent analysis by Bob Braun of how circumstantial evidence and the weight of Mayor James’ own words tied a bow around the prosecution’s case against James.