By George Niemann
PoHo contributor and R-LAND and UCAN activist
The 4th day of this trial had all of the elements of a good Perry Mason episode: legal maneuvering, drama, suspense, a no-nonsense judge and surprise testimony.
Here are todays highlights:
Whites moral character gets reamed over previous admission of 8 campaign violations
A surprise witness threatens Whites defense
A central witness told White hes going to kick his ass when he learned of the allegations
Expert witness for defense says he hopes he can earn $10K for his testimony
Both Whites aide and his chauffeur try to remain loyal to their boss
Todays trial started with the expert testimony of Dr. Sidney J Merin, a psychologist that specializes in brain damage (hey wait a minute, was this a car accident?)
Dr. Merrin claimed that Alyssa Ogden didnt suffer from any Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as Dr. Afield had claimed. He drew from the testing of Alyssa that she might be suffering from paranoia (yeah, that man with the banana in his pocket is out to get her). When asked by Alyssas attorney, Ron Fraley, to confirm that most psychologists dont give diagnoses by only doing testing, Dr. Merin said he could successfully draw a diagnosis just from testing because he is well trained.
The courtroom was entertained when Fraley started reviewing Dr. Merins bills to Hillsborough County. He asked Dr. Merin what he would be billing Hillsborough County for todays testimony. Dr. Merin said, it depends how long you keep me here. Fraley then asks him, by the end of today your cumulative bill could be as high as $10,000? Dr. Merin then says, I hope so!!!. And everyone in the audience, except the Hillsborough County lawyers, burst into laughter.
Then Kevin White gets back on the stand. Mr. Fraley is loaded for bear, considering that yesterday White gave a speech making himself out to be Father Theresa. Fraley recounts how White, at the end of his testimony, says that hes never even been accused of spitting on the sidewalk. So Fraley enters into evidence the admission of guilt that White had signed in 2007 for committing eight counts of campaign finance violations. White seemed to have trouble acknowledging that he committed these offenses. Judge Lazzara getting frustrated jumped in and put White on the spot, did you sign off on this admission of guilt. Yes sir, said White. Are you contesting the contents of what you signed in 2007. No, sir he said. Then lets move on, the judge said.
White was grilled about his sense of morals. Fraley hammered him on his claim that he wasnt looking to have an affair with Ogden, yet he was OK with delivering a 22 year old employee of his to his friend, Blythe Anderson, so he could sleep with her in Atlanta. At one point during the hammering, White dismisses the liaison he supposedly arranged, it wasnt illegal.
Fraley asked White why a happily married man of 23 years would go to Atlanta and go clubbing all by himself. White responded, I didnt do anything wrong. I just wanted to have a few drinks. Fraley asks, if you were so concerned about Alyssa, couldnt you have stopped clubbing to call her before 2am?
Jarvis Glover is called as the next witness. Jarvis explains that he works for Hillsborough County and runs errands for commissioners and takes them to luncheons or whatever they have to do. He is a classified employee but it is not clear exactly what his official job title really is. He says, whenever they call, I respond. So hes sort of like a roadie for the commissioners. As it turns out, hes also a confidant to some of the commissioners. He considers White to be a friend of his and they discuss many personal things. Apparently Commissioner White discussed the fact that Alyssa wasnt performing the way hed like with Jarvis. So Jarvis took it upon himself, without Whites knowledge, to counsel Ms Ogden about her job performance.
Did Jarvis tell her that White was in love with her, as Alyssa testified to? Well yes, and no. He says that he told Alyssa that White loved her, but he meant that only in a religious sense, almost like saying that God loves her. Huh? Putting this into everyday situations I can envision a couple parked along the stretch of beach on Courtney Campbell Expressway late at night. The guy turns to his girl and says I love you. The next day the girl starts planning her wedding only to discover later that the guy really meant that God loves her, but he just wanted to have sex with her.
Cedric McCray provided damaging testimony to the claims of the plaintiff. He backed his boss every step of the way. He said that she didnt perform well and that he never saw any inappropriate behavior on the part of his boss. White, in previous testimony, said that he puts loyalty at the top of his list when hiring. He also said that Cedric was outstanding in job performance. So I guess Cedric is loyal.
Next up is Gerry Boles, the man at the center of this scandal. In previous testimony it was said that he recommended Alyssa to Kevin White for the job. Hes a member of the same church that Alyssa and her family attend, and hes also good friends with White. He was also the one that called Alyssas mother to tell her that there were allegations of sexual harassment allegations mad by her daughter.
When asked about what Boles did when Alyssa told him that White had been making sexual advances, Boles said he immediately called White. Fraley asked what he told White when he reached him on the phone. Boles answered, I told him I was going to kick his ass. How did White respond when he got this angry call? White responded to Boles by saying that he couldnt talk to him about it right now. He said, I cant speak with you now. Boles asked where he was, that he wanted to meet with him to talk about it. White wouldnt tell Boles his location or talk about it, but told him that the truth would come out.
The Perry Mason moment Alyssas attorney had told the judge in the morning that he had a surprise witness. Whites attorneys vehemently opposed letting the surprise witness testify. The judge agreed to let the witness testify but without the jury present. Then he would decide on the relevance of the testimony and make a ruling as to whether it could be shown to the jury.
Who is the mystery witness? Belinda Allen, the former aide to Kevin White who resigned her position in March of 2007, thereby creating the vacancy that Alyssa Ogden ended up filling.
As per her testimony, Belinda Allen had worked for White. She says that her workload was normal and had no problems with her boss. Then one day White approaches her and asks her if she wants to go shopping with him in New York. She was surprised at his offer and had no interest in going to NY. She told him she wasnt interested in going. He asked her a second time and seemed insistent that she go. She refused again. He offered to take his other aide, Cedric McCray with them. She still refused. She said that decision changed everything. Following her refusal, they took all of her work away. She was not invited to any meetings. She answered a few calls but most of that was taken away also. She sat there with no work. She then contacted Tom Scott, Tampa City Councilman and asked to work for him (she had previously worked for him). He agreed and she gave her notice to White and resigned. She unequivocally attributes the isolation that occurred to her refusal to travel with him to NY.
After her brief testimony finished, the judge then decided not to allow the jury to hear it. He told the lawyers that, even though it might have a little relevance to this case, it would open the door (Pandoras Box, as he put it) to cross examining all of the witnesses who already completed their testimony. I question the judges rationale. This testimony has great relevance to the case being heard. The only difference is that in the former case, White didnt have to fire her for not agreeing to be a team player. She was experienced, had many political contacts, and was able to quickly get away from him. And since when does time become a factor in deciding what a jury can hear. He was intent on sending the jury to deliberations on Friday morning and it appears that thats whats going to happen.
More to come tomorrow.