Jury Selection Begins for County Commissioner Eversole's Bribery Trial
by: Ed Mayberry, March 7, 2011 8:03:00 pm
The indictment claims former county facilities director Mike Surface paid Commissioner Eversole a total of $100,000 in bribes in exchange for his votes to award five multi-million-dollar county contracts to a construction company partially owned by Surface. The defense has absorbed some 400,000 pages of documents generated by a three-year federal investigation. Professor Geoffrey Corn with the South Texas College of Law speculates that the defense thinks this will probably be a circumstantial case.
"I mean, it's very rare somebody who is accused of engaging in that conduct is going to be totally blatant in some document or discussion to provide that smoking gun."
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin for Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole
Commissioner Eversole requested a speedy trial, forcing defense attorney Rusty Hardin to get familiar with all those documents in a short time.
"An attorney like Mr. Hardin probably wants to take the position that the government is trying to create a perception of guilt simply by the volume of evidence, and one of his tactics may be to try and send a message to the jury that the defense isn't afraid of the volume of the evidence."
Corn says it's appropriate for the government to put together a mosaic of documents to create a trail of transactions.
"And attempt to convince the jury that the only rational conclusion to draw from that evidence is that the defendant is guilty. The way the defense is going to try and raise doubt is to argue to the jury that there are alternate inferences."
Eversole has pleaded not guilty, and says he has no plans to resign as county commissioner.