andrew schneider investigates

May 7, 2009

The future of the criminal charges against W.R. Grace are now in the hands of the jury and Judge Donald Molloy.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew Schneider @ 07:21


After ten hours of almost non-stop closing arguments Wednesday, the W.R. Grace criminal case has gone to the jury.

Looking around the courtroom, most lawyers, investigators, court watchers and reporters had puzzled expressions on their faces – somewhat like long distance runners when the race is over. What now?

Five U.S. marshals and bailiffs were ordered to the front of the courtroom, raised their right hands and swore to keep the jury sequestered, and moments later they ushered their new charges out of courtroom two and into seclusion somewhere.

This is reprinted with the permission of Stephen Templeton, the talented editorial cartoonist and often gutsy

This is reprinted with the permission of Stephen Templeton, the talented editorial cartoonist at the often gutsy

There is nothing more the defense or prosecution can do. They’ve all taken their best shots, and now it is truly in the hands of the jury.

Never to step out of character, Grace’s top lawyer David Bernick, barely waited for the door to close behind the last juror before he was on his feet demanding that Molloy dismiss the charges, issue new instructions to the jury, hang the prosecutor or DO SOMETHING.

He was outraged at statements Asst. U.S, Attorney Kris McLean made during his rebuttal to the closing arguments.

Like a father trying to calm errant teenagers Molloy twice reminded defense lawyers that there was still a “Rule 29” motion pending. The motion would allow the judge to dismiss the charges after the jury issues its verdict.

With the speed of a college dorm emptying in summer, paralegals or other staff dressed in jeans and sneakers rushed in and quickly began disassembling the maze of computers, files, piles of documents and Bernick’s huge white boards that were the defense team’s courtroom fort for the past 10 weeks.

By the time the room was cleared there were handshakes and hugs for all.

The closing argument offered few surprises, with the lawyers on both side performing as expected. Paul Peronard and others from the EPA sat in the rows in front of me, and it was painful to see the muscles in their necks become taunt and the white knuckles as they listened to statements they knew were outright lies or distortions being offered as gospel.

The courtroom was packed to the point of being uncomfortable and became hot enough to warrant judicial notice when Molloy mentioned that the building’s air conditioner shuts off at six.

The jury paid attention — sometimes more than others in the courtroom. Most were making notes up until the end. One juror, who always laughs at Bernick’s antics, was enjoying himself fully as the comedic lawyer really hammed it up in his closing with wild gestures and his weird emphatic pronunciation of words.

I’m not going to go into the details of the arguments both sides made. Those who have been following this blog far too long, can figure it out. All has been heard before.

However, for those who demand the details, I’m providing links to two really well done and thorough reports by two of the skilled gang from the University of Montana who have been covering this exercise in justice gavel to gavel.

Journalist Laura L. Lundquist’s reports on the prosecution’s closing:

Law student Josh Benham report on what the defense did.



  1. Congratulations, Paul, Chris, Aubrey, Gayla, Andrew, and all the others that made this possible. It takes a village to overcome the mantra “justice is a euphemism for mob control.”

    Comment by Cate Jenkins — May 7, 2009 @ 08:29 | Reply

  2. It has been a long journey and no matter what the verdict or outcome I’d like to thank you, Andy, for your diligent reporting and efforts over the years. This website has been informative and you have consistently wrapped up the feel and events of the courtroom to the point where it almost seemed as though I was there.

    Gayla and Les were the best and most tireless advocates that we could have had. The initial EPA crew was terrific. I moved away from Libby long ago but returned often enough to observe the efforts of all and have always been grateful for such a great group of people who did their best. No matter what happens with either the jury decision or the judge intervention, the efforts of all will be remembered and appreciated and there’s no “Rule 29” that will ever be able to change that.

    Comment by Cindy Bundrock — May 7, 2009 @ 17:05 | Reply

    • Cindy,
      Your father and mine are probably crying along with the rest of us. Justice was not served today. I hope you and your mother are doing all right. Tell Helen I really miss her candy.

      Margy Johnson Urnberg

      Comment by Margy Urnberg — May 8, 2009 @ 19:43 | Reply

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