Here, There and Nowhere…
Ace reporter Mike Scarcella with the Blog of Legal Times posts this item late Thursday: the missing BlackBerry – first mentioned in item #6, Tab A, of the prosecution’s response to the defendant’s joint motion to compel discovery – is truly missing.
Worse, there’s now question as to who ever had it. Last week Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirshner told Judge Weisberg that Robert Wone’s BlackBerry was taken into custody by the District of Columbia MPD and handed over to the Secret Service to be “imaged.”
At Kathy Wone’s request, the MPD then asked for the BlackBerry to be returned, and Kathy says she then later returned it to Radio Free Asia. (RFA has yet to comment on the matter.)
Specifically Kirschner told the court in a filing:
“After it was believed to be imaged, the BlackBerry was retrieved from the U.S. Secret Service and returned to Mr. Wone’s widow…”
Except, at least according to the defense team, that’s flat out not true. In this motion to compel, the defense has “…learned (last Thursday) that the Secret Service will maintain that they never received Mr. Wone’s BlackBerry to in fact image.” Wha?
Since it’s unlikely Kirschner would intentionally tell the court an untruth, it suggests the problem lies with the MPD. Either they were mistaken about the handling of the BlackBerry, or worse, someone just misled to the prosecutor to hide sloppy work.
Neither instills confidence about the police efforts in this case or their ability to follow through on what would appear to be Evidence Gathering: 101.
It’s still unclear whether the jury will hear any of this, as the entire BlackBerry affair may not be allowed in the trial. But if it is allowed, it provides the defense a massive opening to raise doubts not only about this piece of evidence, but evidence in the case as a whole.
And that is exactly the sort of evidentiary black hole the prosecution probably does not want to fall into.
-posted by Doug
And thanks to TK for first cluing us in on Mike’s piece yesterday.