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  • Jim Ferraro

Dirty Tricks to Sway the Case

The questionable tactics the defense engaged in from the outset of the Castillo-DuPont trial continued right through the very last witness’s testimony.

DuPont, Pine Island Farms, and their combined counsel had no respect for the court-set deadlines and repeatedly took advantage of Judge Donner’s liberal procedures.

From the start, I also had to endure endless disparaging comments about Limogate from Clem Glynn. (To refresh your memory, this was an incident from my recent past involving potential clients – young football players and one of my colleagues – who after a night of drinking had skipped out on paying a limo driver my firm used. The story didn’t involve me personally, but I was somehow implicated, and as a result of an exaggerated Miami Herald story, the story became bigger than it should have been.)

Whenever he could, Glynn would sneak in such snide remarks as, “Judge, I don’t know if Mr. Ferraro will be here for the end of the trial, because he’s defending criminal charges” and, “Jim’s got enough investigations to deal with because of his limo situation.” Glynn took advantage of every opportunity to mention the subject in the presence of the judge, who soon became as fed up with it as I was.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the type of commentary that Glynn could direct toward the jury to affect our case.

Greg Gaebe’s dirty tricks were just as bad.

During Lynn Chaffin’s testimony, he said that he had offers from people to lie on behalf of Pine Island Farms. When pressed to divulge who would make such an offer, Chaffin mentioned that one of the offers had come from Sonya Sipes of LaBelle Plant World, a supplier to the farm. Sonya had worked at LaBelle Plant World since June 1992 as an assistant comptroller. As a result of Chaffin’s revelation, I felt the need to call Sonya as a last-minute witness.

Gaebe, David Kleinberg and Glynn all objected to my request, suggesting it was an attempt to rebut Chaffin’s testimony as an adverse witness. But it wasn’t. The defense never anticipated that Chaffin was going to make such an outlandish statement at trial—but he did.

This was put on as part of their defense and was elicited by farm counsel. Pretty stupid. It was a lame attempt by Pine Island Farms to show that Chaffin wouldn’t lie or support lying, when in fact he was a proven liar based on his cell phone records. Glynn did his best to deny that that was what Chaffin said, while Gaebe and Kleinberg tried to paint it as mere mischaracterization by Chaffin that someone had offered to lie on his behalf.

Judge Donner heard the arguments from all sides and ruled that Ms. Sipes could testify.

My firm subpoenaed invoices and contracts related to Pine Island Farms from LaBelle Plant World for December 1995, which Sipes said was the time she first became aware of the lawsuit between the Castillos and the defendants.

It was her job to provide all their documentation to us. No one else was involved in providing those documents to any of the parties connected to the litigation.

During her testimony, Sipes said she had spoken with Gaebe about these invoices, and that he had also asked for copies. Gaebe had conducted a phone deposition with her, and she had also received a call from him the day before she was called to testify.

In my next post, I will continue recounting the testimony of Sipes.

I’d love to hear from you. How often have you had to deal with innuendo that is meant to weaken your case or your position? How did you respond? Thank you for sharing!


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