I want to start with an update from yesterday by saying the Court Reporter is OK. Judge Thompson explained this morning that the Court Reporter is diabetic and in fact, passed out in the courtroom because of a low blood sugar. Thompson said normally the CR gets the judge's attention whenever he needs something, Thompson said for whatever reason that did not happen in this case. The CR is expected to return to proceedings later this week.
Questioning started this morning with Walter McGowan, attorney for Milton McGregor. McGowan immediately attempted to assassinate Gilley's character by asking him if he would stop at nothing to pass the legislation at hand. McGowan played an excerpt of a phone conversation between Ronnie Gilley and Jarrod Massey to prove his point. In the tape Gilley is suggesting to Massey that Jennifer Pouncey should perform sexual acts on Sen. Preuitt in order to get his vote, Gilley is even heard saying he would pay Pouncey $50,000 if she would do this specifically to get his vote. Because this is a family-friendly blog I will not describe the acts heard on tape except to say Gilley was saying Pouncey should use parts of her anatomy on Sen. Preuitt and allow him to tape the act. Gilley insisted on the stand that this was said jokingly and he apologized to the court, Pouncey, Sen. Preuitt, Preuitt's wife and his own wife for his remarks. He said the remarks were completely inappropriate and he had no excuse.
Throughout the rest of the morning McGowan's questioning of Gilley jumped around a lot. It sounded like McGowan was attempting to trap Gilley in a lie. McGowan targeted Gilley's initial claims of innocence and his later guilty plea. McGowan also continuously questioned Gilley on dates when acts were supposed to have happened. Gilley tells McGowan multiple times that he is not good with dates and he can not remember specific dates, only what happened. They also discuss Gilley's time in jail. Gilley told the court he did not have to strike a plea arrangement to get out of jail. McGowan attempted to trap him in that statement.
There was a lot of discussion about Gilley's claims of being "engulfed in the flames" that represented the political corruption in Montgomery. Gilley said in a statement to both judges prior to this trial that he was naive of the political process and was "engulfed in the flames of corruption." Gilley also would not to admit entering into a contract with Terry Spicer.
McGowan read part of Gilley's plea deal with the government to the court. In the agreement it states that the sentence Gilley is scheduled to receive in November is dependant on the outcome of the trial. Gilley said he did not know this. Gilley said he was "hoping for a downward departure on sentencing." The defense was trying to show that Gilley would do anything to get out of jail and lessen his sentence. If the defense could prove that, it would hurt Gilley's credibility in the eyes of the jury. In the agreement it specifically says Gilley must offer "substantial assistance" to the trial to have his jail sentence reduced. Gilley said that just means he has to tell the truth.
Gilley explained that he had his entire life savings of $46 million tied up in Country Crossing. He reportedly told McGregor over the phone that his "life was on the line."
Something else of interest...Gilley revealed to the court the he owned the construction company that was being used to build Country Crossing. That means that Gilley stood to profit (from McGregor's money) for building his own gaming facility. Gilley said this was clear in the contract for the facility. Also, McGowan asked Gilley to describe what he termed as his 'war room.' Gilley's war room was literally a room with all of his contracts for his business and a timeline written out in poster-board on the wall of everything to do with the legislation Gilley was attempting to get approved. Gilley said the war room was in his office and that office was foreclosed on so his employees cleared it out. In clearing it out, Gilley's employees allegedly threw away this timeline. McGowan also pointed out that Gilley told the jury his 'war room' was in his office. He told the government that the room was located at his home.
McGowan's testimony ended just before lunch. Susan James, attorney for Jay Walker took over questioning from there. James tried repeatedly throughout the day to admit recordings of phone calls Gilley placed while incarcerated in the Montgomery City Jail. James said they were relevant depending on how Gilley answered her questions. James planned to use a select few of the recordings to trap Gilley in a lie. Judge Thompson never fully ruled on whether or not he would allow the recordings to be played...they were not heard today. One of the issues at hand was the fact that some of the calls were between Gilley and his lawyer. James said this did not count as attorney/client privilege because Gilley heard in a recording before making every call that his conversations would be recorded and could be used in court.
James asked Gilley if his word was good. Gilley said yes. James also asked him if he was a con-man and he said no. Gilley told the court he was tired of "living a lie."
James also attempted to pick apart Gilley's plea agreement and his release from jail. She brought up the situation I mentioned yesterday when Gilley revealed to the court he knew Joe Espy called him a con-man in proceedings. James proved that Gilley made a stop in public at a fireworks stand to give something to an acquaintance without getting prior approval from his probation officer which is technically a violation of his bond agreement. I want to add that there is a bit of gray area here, Gilley said the stand was on his own land at his place of business. It is not clear whether his agreement says he can only go to his office or if it says he is allowed to visit locations in his ownership. I don't think the issue will be brought up in an attempt to put Gilley back in jail.
James also grilled Gilley on a statement he was heard making in a phone conversation about possibly buying trucks from Sen. Preuitt's dealership in Talladega. James did some math and said that those trucks were supposed to be F-150's, and it was a reasonable assumption that they would cost $30,000. Gilley is heard on tape making a statement about 100 trucks. James said if he purchased that many trucks, well over $3 million would be going into Preuitt's pocket.
Bill Baxley, attorney for Tom Coker rounded out questioning for the afternoon. Baxley had a better rapport with Gilley than McGowan or James. Gilley kept telling Baxley "I like your stories."
Baxley accused Gilley and Massey of being ringleaders of the governmental corruption Gilley spoke to with his 'engulfed in flames' statement. Gilley adamantly disagreed with that comment. He told Baxley, "On my life I promise you I never instigated any of this and it is continuing to take place today." Gilley told the court that "special interest" started the corruption. Most took this to mean Special Interest Groups. To clarify, Gilley offered his own definition of special interest,
"My definition of special interest...you have a railroad track that goes down the middle of this country, or lets say, Dothan. On one side of the track you have the average joe, on the other side you have the people born with the silver spoon in their mouths or bluebloods. If someone on the average joe tries to cross over the bluebloods do everything they can to kick that person back down."
That is clearly not the definition of a Special Interest Group...
Towards the end of the day Baxley tried to quiz Ronnie Gilley on Joel Katz. Gilley explained Katz had been someone who wanted to invest in Country Crossing until it became suspected that the facility would be raided. Gilley said that scared Katz off. Baxley tried to ask Gilley about a conversation he had with Katz. Gilley replied that the conversation was attorney/client privilege because Katz was Gilley's entertainment lawyer. The court ended proceedings today 'in camera' discussing the matter of that privilege.
Proceedings start up again at 9:00 tomorrow morning. It will be very interesting to hear whether or not Judge Thompson grants James her request to play the recorded phone conversations from Gilley's time in jail. Hopefully Thompson will make a concrete ruling on that tomorrow.