Closing Arguments Set for Eversole Bribery Trial

Closing arguments are set in the trial of longtime Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who is charged with taking bribes to steer real estate contracts to a developer. Eversole's defense team has rested without calling witnesses. Ed Mayberry reports.

This is the first time in his 37-year career that defense attorney Rusty Hardin has rested a case without calling a single defense witness. He says prosecutors offered no evidence connecting the gifts with Eversole's official capacity. Professor Geoffrey Corn with the South Texas College of Law says Hardin is trying to demonstrate to the jury that his client has nothing to fear.

"If you don't present the defense, the message you're sending is extremely powerful, which is even considering everything the state offered, they haven't met their burden. There's just not enough proof here to conclude that the only rational explanation of this course of conduct was criminality."

Corn says it's a risk, but Hardin is hoping to downplay the weight of the prosecution's testimony.

"And it's like being a military commander, right? The greater risk you assume, the greater the potential reward."

The judge will have to instruct the jury that it cannot consider that the defendant wasn't asked to testify.

"And then Hardin gets up in closing argument, and he explains to them why he did it. You mark my words, that message will be conveyed loud and clear through Hardin's argument."

The trial has lasted more than two weeks. Eversole is accused of taking more than $100,000 in cash and gifts from developer Michael Surface in exchange for multi-million dollar county contracts. Ed Mayberry, KUHF News.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...