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Olympic Trial Could End Early

Olympic Trial Could End Early

Posted - Dec. 3, 2003 at 5:51 p.m.



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John Daley ReportingThe Olympic bribery trial, which has already seen more than a few surprises, could conclude earlier than expected. Prosecutors plan to finish their case, tomorrow.

Prosecutors have a summary witness ready to testify tomorrow. Then the defense will ask Judge David Sam to dismiss the case, saying the prosecution has not proven the case.

Defendants Tom Welch and Dave Johnson face serious charges--15 federal felonies. But there's little doubt they've got home court advantage, including one high profile local attorney defending them, a jury of Utahns hearing the case, and a Utah federal judge David Sam--who already threw out the case once--presiding.

Sam has tightly reigned in the questions he allows Justice Department prosecutors to ask and their frustration has been evident in the courtroom. Meantime, the defense team clearly believes that using the government's own witnesses, they're winning.

Max Wheeler, Attorney for Dave Johnson: "Right now it will not be a long defense. I can tell you that."

Attorneys for Welch and Johnson say they'll ask the judge to dismiss the case for a lack of proof. Such a request is commonly made, but rarely granted. But defense attorneys seem confident that this time the judge might do it.

Jurors today heard a quick round of testimony from Canadian IOC member Dick Pound who led the IOC's probe of the Salt Lake scandal. Pound testified about the Olympic Charter, the rules governing the IOC, saying "Olympism" includes the notion of "respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."

Pound was expected to testify about how the IOC kicked out seven members for taking money or valuable gifts from Salt Lake in violation of Olympic rules, and that another three delegates resigned because of the scandal.

Instead Pound testified about the IOC members expelled, but wasn't allowed to say why--apparently due to a ruling on evidence Judge Sam made not in court but in chambers. Afterward Pound said gifts and money given to IOC members were not bribes.

Dick Pound, IOC Member, Canada: "They were payments to encourage good feelings about Salt Lake."

Defense attorneys say they don't plan to take a long time to present their case. Perhaps a few days, then we'd have closing arguments from both sides and one might expect to have a verdict before Christmas. But this case has been anything but predictable so stay tuned.

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