I felt that as Paul Michael Pohl took the podium this afternoon in the hearing on the defense motions for a new trial, he embraced the reformer spirit of Martin Luther. Luther, you might recall, went up to the church door, attached his concerns about religion, and set off a revolution. Pohl told Judge Michael Silverstein that he was going to cover 14 items which could lead to dismissal or a new trial in the Rhode Island (RI) lead paint trial. Yeah, like Luther, Pohl had guts.
The 14 items came as the last thing up in an exhaustive two-day hearing. Also, some of the items such as the Lead Industries Association (LIA) and the overhang of a product-liability case had been discussed seemingly forever. But Pohl plowed on.
The one issue that was naturally engaging, at least to anyone who was obsessed with RI lead paint II, was Pohl's deconstruction of how the state had allegedly appealed to the jurors' financial self-interest. The state, Pohl, contended did this through the "burden to the taxpayer" theme.
According to Pohl, there were 11 references to "direct harm to the taxpayers of RI." He was right on the money. I vividly remember that theme because it hit home for me during those four months of the trial. No way, Jose, did I want to be assuming the financial burden of screening and treating children for lead poisoning.
Pohl emphasized that this was a "drumbeat" theme that was hammered through "frequency and directness." Since the nation was just coming out of a global recession, I saw that theme as very powerful. I had no legal notion that rolling it out and reinforcing it could be grounds for a new trial.
After Pohl's 14 items, Judge Michael Silverstein told the court room that he couldn't predict when he would have a ruling on the defense motions.
We who had spent so much time together in this courthouse lingered for a few minutes talking, then packed up our attache cases and headed off to do assignments that had nothing whatsoever to do with lead pigments. I had to get back pronto to central Connecticut to research and create a column for GREENTREE GAZETTE - a print publication focused on the business of higher education - on marketing communications. Don Scott, who represents NL Industries, already had left yesterday after for a different kind of jury trial.
Yeah, hard to change gears, but necessary, I guess.