Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Closing Arguments Today In City Hall Corruption Trial

The federal corruption trial for Chris Wright, City Councilman Jack Kelly's former chief of staff, and three of his political allies should get back under way within the hour. The defense rested yesterday afternoon. Prosecutors are expected to begin their closing arguments at 11 a.m., followed by defense attorneys for Wright, attorney Andy Teitelman and his two clients, developers Hardeep and Ravinder Chawla.

Closing Arguments Today In City Hall Corruption Trial

The federal corruption trial for Chris Wright, City Councilman Jack Kelly's former chief of staff, and three of his political allies should get back under way within the hour.  The defense rested yesterday afternoon.  Prosecutors are expected to begin their closing arguments at 11 a.m., followed by defense attorneys for Wright, attorney Andy Teitelman and his two clients, developers Hardeep and Ravinder Chawla.

Teitelman and the Chawla brothers are accused of bribing Wright with $1,000, a rent-free apartment and free legal services for several personal problems in return for help on real estate and tax matters with city officials and agencies.

Check back here during the day for updates on the closing arguments.  U.S. District Justice Eduardo Robreno told the jury yesterday that they may begin deliberating this afternoon.

UPDATE, 11 am:  Yesterday the judge locked us in the courtroom while he dismissed a juror from his chambers.  Today he has locked us out while attorneys for the defense and prosecution attorneys hash out instructions for the jury before they start deliberating.  One of the judge's clerks said Robreno didn't want the attorneys interrupted during this task, which was supposed to be done by 11 a.m.  But the wheels of justice turn slow.  So it looks now like closing arguments won't start until noon at the earliest.

UPDATE, 12 pm:  Courtroom cliche revision -- Did we say the wheels of justice turn slow?  How slow?  So slow you can't even see them move.  The judge just sent everyone to lunch for an hour.  We should be able to actually enter the courtroom at 1 p.m.

UPDATE, 1 pm:  Still no entry for the public, as the attorneys continue to hash out the jury instructions for the judge.  Scheduling is a growing problem.  With a the prosecution and four defense attorneys, that's five closing arguments.  If this goes much longer, we might not get all that in today.  Will the judge spread closing arguments over two days?  And if the jury doesn't get the case until tomorrow, will they wind up coming back next Tuesday?  Monday is Presidents Day and the federal courthouse is closed.  Defense attorneys are worried about the jury, on the trial more than two weeks already, having to wait out a long weekend and come back to start all over again.

UPDATE, 1:35 pm:  The courtroom is now open, although the trial is not yet under way again.  Defense attorneys seem to be anticipating some closing arguments today and the rest tomorrow morning.  Looks like the jury won't get the case until tomorrow afternoon.

UPDATE, 1:50 pm:  The judge just decided to send the jury home.  Closing arguments have been pushed until tomorrow morning at 8:45 a.m.  The defense attorneys are going to use the rest of the day to finish their work on the jury instructions.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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