The Government Rests In Richard Chichakli Trial: USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al
Monday December 9th, 2013 11:00 am
Until today I have attended everyday of the Richard Chichakli trial in its entirety. Just to be crystal clear, Chichakli at this very moment is continuing his cross examination of Al Monica whom is the governments seventeenth and final witness. Mr. Monica is employed as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton and currently working for the DEA’s Special Operation Division more commonly referred to as SOD. According to Chicakli’s latest email he will call several more witness’, here is what he wrote me:
“On Monday I will also have my Ex-Wife Gloria testifying, My Ex-Partner William Riggs, and John Cox, the DOJ official who granted me the permission to leave in 2005.
The trial should be done by Wednesday and it is up to the Jury from that point.
That is all the summary for now, and I will keep you posted.”
Before I go into more detail about Mr. Monica’s testimony, I want to back up to last week. Specifically last Thursday December 5th, 2013 when Chichakli called his second witness Tami Loehrs, whom was deemed an expert witness. Ms. Loehrs is a computer forensic analyst at her firm, Loehrs & Associates located in Tucson, Arizona and has been in business for approximately 14 years since 1999.
Before the jury entered the courtroom, prosecutor Christian Everdell indicated to the judge that he was not happy that Ms. Loehrs was interrupting the prosecutions case. Everdell said that he didn’t think it was fair that the defense’s expert witness interrupt Ms. Seidsma whom was the governments expert computer forensic witness. Mrs. Loehrs couldn’t testify later in the week due to schedule conflicts for other trials and the judge previously agreed to let her interrupt the governments witness due to the defendant being incarcerated as well as having limited resources. Everdell suggested a compromise to the judge, that their expert witness, Ms. Seidsma be allowed to sit at the attorney’s table inside the courtroom during Ms. Loehrs testimony. Mr. Everdell had also previously raised concerns to the judge of not having enough time to prepare for the cross-examination of the defense’s expert witness Ms. Loehrs. Thus allowing Ms. Seidsma to hear Ms. Loehrs testimony would allow the prosecution to better prepare for the cross-examination. Judge Pauley stated that he thought that was a very sensible and fair compromise and Chichakli had no objections and thus it was allowed.
Thursday December 5th, 2013 at 10:05 am the jury entered and then Ms. Loehrs. After Ms. Loehrs briefly described her credentials and experience Chichakli began questioning her. Chichakli asked her about ‘hash values’ as compared to the ‘size of data’ comparison in forensic analysis. The reason Chichakli raised this question was that the Royal Thai police seized Viktor Bout’s laptop in March 2008 and it was stated by the prosecution that a forensic copy of the original laptop was made. However, it came out in testimony during the trial that the DEA’s forensic analyst compared the size of Bout’s laptop with a forensic copy via the ‘data size’ method. Much of the evidence presented in Bout’s trial that led to his conviction as well as a lot of evidence in Chichakli’s trial presented in the courtroom was allegedly taken from Bout’s laptop.
Ms. Loehrs when asked by Chichakli how can you authenticate the DEA’s forensic copy of Bout’s laptop with the original via the ‘data size’ method [as compared to the hash value method], she answered, “you can’t.” Loehrs continued, “there is no way to verify size or data, you absolutely can not verify data. It is “not an acceptable method [referring to the 'data size' method] because it is not accurate.”
Chichakli continued questioning the witness. Asking that if you replaced a photo of myself with my 100 year old grandmother and the data of each image was exactly the same, would it alter the size of the data on the computer. Loehrs answered that you can add and / or delete many files and as long as they are the same file sizes that total data size of the computer would not change.
At 10:45 am Christian Everdell for the government begins cross-examining the witness. He was fairly tame asking Ms. Loehrs if she had forensically evaluated the evidence in this particular case. Everdell also asked her if she had any evidence if the forensic evidence presented in this case was manipulated or altered, she stated “I have no idea. She stated she had no evidence that it was authentic or tampered with, she couldn’t say either way. Chichakli asked a few additional questions on re-direct examination to try to hammer home his previous points of the hash value being the only valid and accurate method in forensic analysis. At 11:23 am during Everdell’s re-cross of Ms. Loehrs, things got very nasty. Everdell attacked her character by asking her if she remembers posting a 2010 FaceBook post demeaning the FBI? Ms. Loehrs smiled and chuckled slightly and stated, “yes I remember that post.” Everdell then continued and got more vicious and started questioning several previous trials that Loehrs testified as a witness. Everdell pointed out at least a half-dozen examples and negative reactions to Ms. Loehrs previous court testimonies. She remained dignified and composed during this verbal assault and one of her last responses in reply to Everdell was, “that is what happens to you when you testify against and question the techniques and methods of forensic analysis used by law enforcement, they sometimes say bad things about you.”
Ms. Loehrs testimony ended almost exactly at 1:00 pm just in time for the lunch break. After lunch, at 2:00 pm Chichakli continued his cross-examination of the prosecutions 16th witness, Ms. Seidsma whose testimony was interrupted by Ms. Loehrs. About thirty minutes later Ms. Siedsma was excused and the governments 17th and final witness took the stand at 2:32 pm. During Al Monica’s initially testimony he stated that he is a contractor working for the DEA’s SOD. The judge stopped both the prosecutor Ian McGinley and Mr. Monica and said wait, who do you work for? Monica then stated that he was a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton hired by the DEA’s SOD. The judge later stated when the jury was on a break that the fact that Monica wasn’t directly working for the DEA almost slipped past him. He expressed his displeasure to the prosecution as to the way they presented their witness to the court.
Monica’s testimony was almost exclusively a slide presentation that also included a timeline. Chichakli objected to the entire slideshow and it was overruled by the judge. After the second slide Chichakli’s standby counsel Mr. Kirton said, “Your honor, I know the court has previously ruled on this but we object. We object to all of it.” The judge then called another sidebar [ an area in front of or next to the judge's bench away from the witness stand and the jury box, where lawyers are called to speak confidentially with the judge out of earshot of the jury].
The judge said that the slide show was closing argument material. He actually removed slide one from evidence and it seemed to me that the judge almost considered not allowing the entire slide show which the government argued to keep it in evidence. After another sidebar, when the prosecution resumed in a very brisk manner almost flying through the slide presentation. Based on the previous two slide shows presented by the prosecution which was presented at a snails pace, the witness Monica was reading so fast that the court reporter had to ask him to read slower.
In Viktor Bout’s trial there were very few sidebars, in fact on one occasional when Bout’s lawyer Albert Dayan asked to approach the bench, judge Scheindlin said, “Yes but don’t make a habit of it.” I have been told by reporters covering trials for years that every judge is different. In terms of sidebars judge Pauley is much more liberal, in fact he calls them many times, if I had to guess how many sidebars there have been during this trial, I would say close to thirty. However, this trial is unique and highly unusual I have no idea if judge Pauley would call this many sidebars if Chichakli was not defending himself. One thing is apparent, he has been extremely fair and patient with Chichakli inside the courtroom, and in my opinion going out of his way to help him with his legal limitations since he is representing himself with no prior legal experience.
However, I do know for a fact that Chichakli would argue that the court has been very unfair in what it has allowed to be used as evidence in testimony and especially in the case of the allowance of witness’ that he requested to testify. Chichakli has stated very clearly on numerous occasions that he feels that about a dozen of his witness’ being denied by the court to testify is completely unfair and denies him a fair trial. The next several excerpts are taken verbatim directly from Chichakli’s emails, some are to others where I was cc’d and the rest were sent to me directly.
Good day [name intentionally left blank]:
Thank you for your message.
The trial is going as usual, with the usual denial of witnesses and documents. Nothing new, just about the same but with different witnesses.
On top of the denial of witness I am as of last week, neither allowed to bring-up or reference my US intelligence service nor allowed to ask witnesses about the subject all together. I am also not allowed to ask witnesses regarding my earlier discussion with the government, it is a strange way of conducting fair trial …. the least to say.
This is an excerpt of a very recent letter to the judge by Chichakli asking him to reconsider his decision on whether or not to allow Department of Justice employee Adam Szubin to testfy. the ful letter can be read here: Richard Chichakli’s Letter to the Judge for Reconsideration of a Potential Witness
IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE, EQUITY, DUE PROCESS and FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTAINING FAIR TRIAL AT EQUAL BASIS Defendant is humbly requesting that the court reconsider its previous ruling concerning the exclusion of documents from the 2006 Chichakli Civil Case against the government, and the denial of the defense request to call Adam Szubin to testify. Both the testimony of Mr. Szubin and the document used in Chichakli’s 2006 legal action against the government are directly related to the case on trial now, they are related, and they were both used by the government in preparing its case against the defendant.
Richard Chichakli, (Pro-Se)
In terms of bringing up Chichakli’s past work for U.S. intelligence agencies, Chichakli tried to ask Special Agent Larsen whom testified on Tuesday December 3rd if he was aware of his prior work with the NSA? The question was objected by prosecution and sustained by the judge. Chichakli tried to rephrase the question but it ended with the same results. Chichakli in frustration then turned to the judge and said to the judge, “Why can’t I ask about the NSA?” The judge answered, “I’m forbidding it. I issued an order under CIPA.” CIPA is the Classified Information Procedures Act. I did not attend every pre-trial hearing but the judge made it clear that it was discussed and some point and a ruling was made. Obviously it was at a pre-trial hearing that I didn’t attend. Shorty after I posted this article a friend and colleague sent me this pdf: GOVERNMENT’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW TO PRECLUDE THE DEFENDANT FROM OFFERING CERTAIN EVIDENCE which explains why Richard Chichakli’s testimony and evidence is extremely restricted.
The trial will probably end Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday depending on the judge Pauley’s ruling on Chichakli’s reconsideration of witness’. For more detailed information about Chichakli’s first witness, please read Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al. Please stay tuned, we are getting close to the closing arguments and the end of the trial. It is impossible to guess how long a jury will deliberate but deliberations could possibly start as early as Thursday or possibly Friday.