State Rep Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) defied that logic and was found not guilty in the first trial arising from a Lee County grand jury investigation related to the activities at the Alabama State House.
Based on press reports, Moore was not a particularly effective witness. In fact, one account suggests he more or less confessed to at least one instance of perjury. But we suspect his decision to stand up and speak on his own behalf played a role in the non-guilty verdicts, on two counts of perjury and two counts of providing false statements.
A source who was present for the trial says the Moore defense team's strategy apparently consisted of creating as much confusion as possible, perhaps to draw attention from taped phone conversations that seemed to show Moore was less than truthful before the grand jury about threats issued by House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
From our source:
My mother used to always tell me that I argue just to argue, and that is exactly what happened in this case. Moore’s legal team had no legal standing to argue on, so they resorted to arguing irrelevant facts that came across to me as absurd and laughable. The defense created such a foggy haze of ludicrous assertions that at times I forgot what Barry Moore was on trial for. This tactic clearly worked.
You can never overlook the element of race in an Alabama proceeding, so I asked our source about the racial makeup of the jury. He said it was seven whites and five blacks--two black males, five white males, two white females, three black females. Both alternates were white females.
Based on that, it doesn't seem race played much of a factor. (It would be interesting to know the identify of the foreman; I'm convinced that person almost always carried huge weight in a jury trial.)
A scatter-shot defense that left observers scratching their heads apparently carried the day. And I suspect Barry Moore helped himself by taking the stand. My guess is that, to many jurors, nothing screams "Guilty" like a defendant who won't speak for himself. That might not hold true if the defendant is a street thug with a long list of prior arrests and convictions. But in a white-collar case, where the defendant is likely to be fairly well spoken and the law often is murky, I think it makes sense for the defendant to put himself out there for questioning.
I see no reason for the Moore verdict to have any impact on future proceedings that grow from the Lee County investigation. But the case did provide us with a memorable quote. In one tape recording, political opponent Josh Pipken is heard telling Moore "most business leaders think you're a snake and stupid as well."
How's that for laying the cards on the table?
We don't know if Moore is stupid or not. But he was wise enough to take the stand in his own defense. And we suspect he owes his freedom, at least in part, to that decision.