Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Congressman William Jefferson's "bathroom break" defense

It seems that Congressman William Jefferson and his attorneys are grasping at straws in the case against him. Can you hold your piss, Congressman Jefferson?

In a case already fraught with precedent-setting legal questions, attorneys for Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, are seeking perhaps another first in judicial opinions.

Is it reasonable, the lawyers ask a federal judge, to believe that a 58-year-old man could wait more than two hours after awakening in the morning before taking a bathroom break?

The issue is raised in motions intended to cast doubt on the Justice Department's contention that FBI agents did not restrict Jefferson's movements until they began a court-authorized search of his home, about 2 1/2 hours after they knocked on his door and awakened him from a night's sleep.

The timing is important because Jefferson's attorneys say a person who believes he is being restricted in his actions must be read the Miranda rights before he can be questioned by law enforcement agents.

In an earlier motion, Jefferson, now 60, said he answered a knock on his door at 7 a.m. on Aug. 3, 2005, barefoot, wearing an undershirt and a pair of pants he had quickly put on, to find the waiting agents. At one point, according to Jefferson, the lead agent told him this would "be the worst day of his life."

Jefferson's attorneys are asking federal Judge T.S. Ellis III not to allow Jefferson's statements, which the Justice Department describes as "incriminating," to be used in the upcoming trial in which the congressman is accused of bribery, racketeering and other charges. In the motion filed last month, defense attorneys said Jefferson was accompanied to the bathroom by an armed FBI agent who insisted that the nine-term congressman keep the door open.

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