Thank you, jurors, cleared Fieger says
BY DAVID ASHENFELTER AND JOE SWICKARD
Detroit Free Press
JUNE 2, 2008
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger won a dramatic acquittal Monday on federal charges of violating campaign-finance laws, saving his lucrative career and sending federal prosecutors in Detroit to yet another crushing defeat in a high-profile case.
Jurors rejected each of the felony charges against Fieger and his law partner, Vernon (Ven) Johnson, and then eight to 10 of them repaired to a downtown Detroit hotel to hoist glasses of champagne with the two defendants and their legal team.
“I want to thank the jury for listening,” Fieger said after the jury announced its verdict. It came after nearly 20 hours of deliberations over four days and a 20-day trial in U.S. District Court. “I hope this puts an end to political prosecution in the age of Mr. Bush,” referring to President George W. Bush’s administration.
Johnson and Fieger hugged family members, supporters and their lawyers after the jury cleared them. A conviction on any one of 10 felony counts against Fieger, and five against Johnson, could have sent them to prison and ended their legal careers.
The verdict was a victory for famed Jackson, Wyo., lawyer Gerry Spence, 79, who told jurors in closing arguments that his defense of Fieger was the last trial of his career.
Spence called the verdict
Jurors said they acquitted because prosecutors failed to prove that Fieger and Johnson illegally channeled money to the failed 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards.
“I think it was the lack of evidence that got us to our decision,” said juror Krista First 24, an accountant from Adrian. ...