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  • Jim Ferraro

A Breather Between Testimony, and Taking Stock

In my previous posts, I presented the first phase of the testimony from Dr.

Vyvyan Howard, a renowned toxicology and pathology expert, who spoke about the effects of the DuPont fungicide on birth defects, specifically what might have happened with Johnny Castillo, who had been born without eyes.

The first phase of Dr. Howard’s testimony took a full day. It was clear and concise, and made extremely difficult scientific information easy to understand.

I suggested that we adjourn for the day at the end of the first phase, as I knew the next portion of my questioning would be more complicated and I wanted the jury to be fresh when they heard the rest of what Dr. Howard had to say.

It had been a long day for everyone. The judge agreed, releasing Dr. Howard from the witness stand and sending the jury home until the following morning.

We had done a good job, but there was still a lot of work ahead of us.

As we had almost every night of the trial, Liz Russo and I went back to my office to recap the day and go over our notes.

My associate of about eight months, Ana Rivero, typically brought very little to the table. Liz and I were the ones who bounced substantive ideas back and forth. We’d have deep and sometimes heated conversations while Ana sat there like a fly on the wall. Every night she’d say something that was totally confounding, to the point where I’d have to bite my tongue to avoid going absolutely bat-shit crazy on her.

Admittedly, this case was extremely complicated and challenging, and she was relatively new to it, but by the time I realized she was in way over her head it was too late to take her off the team. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt that she’d have a bright future, but for the purposes of this case, I had to write her off.

I would do my best to ignore her and just move on with strategizing our next moves for the following day in court with Liz, though there were plenty of times I had to tell Ana to go home before I lost my cool.

DuPont and Pine Island Farms made sure the evidence was always a moving target. We’d have to think through all the possible angles in advance so we’d be prepared for anything they would try to throw at us. That meant lots of talking things through.

The last thing I wanted or needed at the end of a long and tedious day in court was an annoying associate who added no value to the game. The only person I could have any meaningful conversations with about this case was Liz.

In my next post, I’ll continue recounting the testimony of Dr. Vyvyan Howard, as he once again took the stand for us.

You’ll find much more about the Castillo-DuPont trial, as well as information on my background and my thoughts on aspects of the judicial process, in my book, Blindsided.


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