Stevens’ Fight For Political Life Rests in Hands of Jury

With closing arguments finished, all that’s left in the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens, is jury instructions and deliberation. Those will start this morning, and depending on how long the jury deliberates, we could have a decision in the historic trial of the only sitting senator ever indicted as early as this afternoon.

So let’s take this time to look back at some of the highs and lows from the four week long trial.

One of the biggest lows, for the prosecution anyway, was Judge Emmet Sullivan’s exclusion of key evidence after the government failed to provide the defense with copies of evidence and never provided promised testimony.

The prosecution semi-recovered from the ruling, calling a late witness, Dave Anderson — who worked for VECO and on Stevens’ renovations — to testify in order to compensate for some of the excluded evidence.

While it looked like this blow against the government’s case seemed devastating, that was before Stevens took the stand. The seven-term senator’s two days of testimony (which we blogged here and here) added a new variable to the trial and it’s difficult to tell if Stevens’ curmudgeonly answers on cross-examination helped or hindered his cause.

An un-related moment in the trial, but a favorite at TPM, was the possibility of Martha Stewart’s attorney being called as a witness. The judge excluded his testimony, but gave this wonderful quote, captured by the Blog of Legal Times:

“The words ‘Martha Stewart’ mean different things to different people,” Judge Sullivan said. “There is no universal meaning of ‘Martha Stewart.'”

Yesterday’s closing arguments, were predictably theatrical especially from the defense — sometimes too theatrical. Stevens’ attorney Brendan Sullivan was apparently modulating his voice so widely between shouts and whispers that the jury had to stop Sullivan’s closing to ask him to repeat words he intimately breathed to the jurors, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The prosecution spent much of the time incredulously recalling Stevens’ testimony and “growling” answers on cross-examination.

“Maybe since the defendant lives so close to the North Pole, maybe Santa and his elves came down and did this work and completed it. He had no idea,” said prosecutor Brenda Morris.

And with that, we wait — like expectant children on Christmas Eve — for the jury to reach a decision on the fate of Sen. Stevens