The trial began on January 8th with the attorneys for the New York Attorney General’s Office making their case against the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, Woody Phillips, and John Frazer for breaches of the Estates Powers & Trust Law, breaches of fiduciary duties under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law, related party transactions, violation of New York’s whistleblower law, and false filings. Josh Powell had earlier entered into a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution. The state’s case was concluded on February 5th and then the attorneys for the NRA and the individual defendants began to make their cases for acquittal. Finally, today both sides gave their closing arguments and the jury will begin deliberation tomorrow.
In the interim, Wayne LaPierre’s reign over the NRA ended on January 31st. He announced his resignation on January 5th. One thing I did notice almost immediately after LaPierre’s announcement is that the attorneys from Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, went from “keeping Wayne out of jail” to saying it was “all Wayne’s fault”. They have argued that Wayne, Woody, and company kept the NRA Board of Directors in the dark and, as such, the NRA can’t be held responsible for their actions.
The New York Attorney General’s Office’s Second Amended Complaint listed 15 causes of action against the NRA and the individual defendants. At the conclusion of the state’s case, attorneys for the NRA asking for a directed verdict saying, in effect, the Attorney General’s Office had not proved their case. Likewise, attorneys for the individual defendants argued that they were not liable under some of the causes of action. This past Monday, February 13th, Judge Cohen ruled on these motions. He rejected the NRA’s argument that the 1st Cause of Action – Breach of the Estates Powers & Trustees Law be dismissed over “vagueness”. He dismiss similar causes of action (6, 7, and 8) against the individual defendants holding that they could not be classified as “trustees” under the EPTL. With the exception of the related party transaction involving LaPierre which he dismissed today, all the other charges against the individual defendants remain.
One thing that has been often overlooked is that the victims in this case are those of us that are members of the NRA. Beyond paying for the private planes, suits, and trips for LaPierre, it has been our dues and contributions that have been used to pay the legal bills for both the NRA and the individual defendants. While I can’t speak for Woody Phillips, I am sure that both LaPierre and Frazer will submit bills to the NRA for their legal expenses to be reimbursed under the Directors and Officers insurance policy. This would be over and above what is being spent with Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors where it takes approximately the dues from 22 annual members to pay for one hour of legal representation.
I will cover the closing arguments in a separate post in order to keep this post from being too long.