Red wine-banana split simile applied in Lakin witness argument

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 11, 2007, 11:00am

"Unlike fine wine, old case law does not improve with age," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark waxed in an Oct. 5 response regarding evidence he wants to introduce at Tom Lakin's criminal trial.

"On the other hand, judges, like oenophiles (wine connoisseurs), develop a keen sense of terroir (a group of vineyards from the same region)," Clark wrote in response to Lakin's objection to testimony from a minor male.

Clark asked U.S. District Judge J. Philip Gilbert in a motion filed Aug. 31 to allow the government to present witness "John Doe 2" who will testify that the once-powerful Metro-East plaintiff's lawyer "sexually groomed" him as a teenage minor.

Lakin, who was indicted on eight counts of drug and sex charges, opposed Clark's motion arguing any material evidence introduced against a defendant results in prejudice.

"In contrast, a lawyer's reliance on inapposite (not pertinent) case law is akin to pairing dry red wine with a banana split, resulting in an appreciation for neither the wine nor the ice cream."

In Clark's Aug. 31 motion, he wrote, "Evidence used only to show a defendant's bad character is not admissible.

"The evidence that the government seeks to admit in this case, however, is relevant to issues other than character - it is relevant to show the defendant's intent, motive, preparation, and plan."

The Aug. 31 motion says federal prosecutors allege Lakin repeatedly asked the minor to have sex with him at his East Alton home, even at one point promising him a Cadillac Escalade in return. When "John Doe 2" rebuffed Lakin's overtures, according to prosecutors, the lawyer asked him to have sex with assorted females, including a 17-year-old girl.

Lakin has argued that that evidence would "unfairly excite emotions" against him and the danger of unfair prejudice is "especially pernicious" given the type of evidence Clark wants to introduce.

He also argued that the government's case rests solely on the testimony of the victims and if the evidence is admitted, he runs the very real danger of being convicted of the Mann Act charge because of his alleged propensity to engage in intercourse with young boys.

In his Oct. 5 response Clark says he finds it "difficult to understand why defense continues to rely on musty, old, inapposite case law from other circuits."

Clark also argues that evidence we wants admitted goes to show Lakin's "intent, motive, preparation, and plan; it is not unduly prejudicial and is not being offered to show propensity."

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