It's all over except for the final whimper

The Hovind court case will be having final arguments today, but it's pretty much over.

Defense lawyers for Kent and Jo Hovind rested their case on Wednesday without presenting evidence or calling witnesses. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. today. The Hovinds' fate then will be in the hands of the 12-person jury.

I wouldn't lay odds on the outcome of this trial—evangelical Christians will automatically get a pass by many jurors. He's such a nice man, after all, and he's just doing the work of the Lord. I'd bet, though, that he won't get the full penalty.

If found guilty, Kent Hovind faces a maximum of 288 years in prison, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.

His wife, Jo Hovind, faces up to 225 years. Her charges include aiding and abetting her husband with 44 counts of evading bank-reporting requirements.

On the other hand, the Hovind's lawyer seemed to think that the best defense is no defense at all.

After Wednesday's session, Richey said there was no need for a defense.

"I don't believe the government met its burden," Richey said. "The government has to prove that (Kent Hovind) knew he had a duty under the law to pay those taxes."

Hmmm. The testimony shows that Hovind was a man obsessed with his purported privileges as a man of God to escape taxation, he gives talks on his version of tax law, he and his wife were careful to always withdraw sums just under what would require reporting by the bank, and we're supposed to believe that he was simply a blank-eyed, dumb-as-a-stick dullard who didn't know what taxes were? Maybe the defense should have been a presentation of his views on evolution. That would have supported their defense that Kent Hovind is an ignorant moron just fine.

More like this

The description of the end of the Hovind trial from the Pensacola News Journal can be found below the fold. Foolish little man. Pensacola evangelist and tax protester Kent Hovind winked at his wife and gave her a reassuring smile as he was led away to jail. Jo Hovind clutched the necktie he had…
Looks like creationist paragon of moral fortitude Kent Hovind might be headed to the slammer. Kent Hovind is charged with 58 federal counts, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes and withholdings. If found guilty, he faces a maximum of 288 years in prison. His wife, Jo Hovind…
In the most predictable result ever, the jury deliberated only 3 hours before finding Kent Hovind and his wife guilty on all charges. A federal jury has convicted Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo, of tax fraud. Hovind faces a maximum of 288 years in prison. His wife faces up to 225 years. Her charges…
This trial is going to be a lot of fun to watch. The local paper reports that two of Hovind's employees, the ones he says he didn't withhold taxes from or pay taxes on because they were "ministers" and he runs a ministry, testified that they thought they were employees. And they quoted from memos…

The prosecution presented evidence in the form of witness testimony to the effect that Hovind bragged about having circumvented traceability through the expedient of cash transactions. In other words, the (unrefuted) evidence is that Hovind knew exactly what he was doing.

The vagaries of jury surprises notwithstanding, court cases are generally won by the side that prepares the best. The feds took a long time to build their case, and it appears that the guvment lawyers were well organized and meticulous. On the other side, Hovind's attorney was admonished by the judge at one point to get his organizational shite together when he delayed the proceedings looking for a document. Unless there is at least one goofy juror, the verdicts are forgone conclusions, I think.

By Jim Wynne (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

I definitely wouldn't be saying it's in the bag yet, even though it's apparent to all but a blind hedgehog in a wet paper bag that Hovind knew full well what he was doing. Unfortunately, you can never count out the goofiness of juries.

I am a little concerned that a juror might go for a Hiovind offer of Free Dino Rides and Dashboard Jesuses for life and hang the jury.

In a preemptive move: "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Render unto God that which is God's."

By complex_field (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

I think that was the plan, not to defend themselves, like when Jesus was brought to Pontius Pilate.

Mind you, they knew they were doing wrong and do not want to admit it.

Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, we've seen my client. We've heard him speak. We've read his website. Quite simply, the man's insane. Can't tell reality from fiction. He thinks Jack Bauer is a real person. Ladies and gentlement, my client does not have the brains to know he was supposed to pay taxes.

If the head's full of shit, you must acquit!

"The government has to prove that (Kent Hovind) knew he had a duty under the law to pay those taxes."

It's the old 'Ignorance of the Law is an Excuse' defence. If Hovind honestly believed he was right about not having to pay taxes, he wouldn't have his lawyer talking about what Hovind knew but would make his defence the claim that as a matter of law, Hovind did not have to pay taxes. Then you'd be looking at making submissions on the law to the judge or to appealing on the basis that the judge was mistaken in law in convicting Hovind.

In fairness to Richey, what else would he say?

I knew the case was a dog from the git-go. The only viable defense strategy I could offer such obvious thieves was to try to glom onto some particularly gullible Bible bangers during the voir-dire. Now, I'm counting the minutes until it's over.
By Molly, NYCl (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

If the head's full of shit, you must acquit!
You're my new hero ;)

"In fairness to Richey, what else would he say?"

I'm sure it's not Richey, but his venal and arrogant client. That Hovind is allowing him to put up a defence based on Hovind not knowing he had to pay taxes itself is (yet) another demonstration that Hovind knew full well what he was up to with his tax evasion schemes. The tax protest guff was just a smoke screen for his gullible followers.

If I were a con-man, knowing Hovind is having trouble, now would be a good time to buy his mailing list. What a treasure trove of marks.

Steve S: Couldn't help but be reminded of one of my favourite scenes from Red Dwarf...

KRYTEN:
Good news. The Justice Computer has sanctioned a re-trial. I think we have a very strong case.

RIMMER:
You do?

KRYTEN:
It's a question of differentiating between guilt and culpability, sir. What the mind-probe detected was your own sense of guilt about the accident. In a way, you tried and convicted yourself. I simply have to establish you're a neurotic, under-achieving emotional retard whose ambition far outstrips his minuscule abilities and who consequently blames himself for an accident for which he could not possibly have been responsible.

RIMMER:
You're going to try to prove that I was innocent of negligence on the grounds that I'm a half-witted incompetent?

CAT:
Man, there ain't a jury in the land that won't buy a plea like that.

KRYTEN:
Not a half-wit, exactly - more a buffoon.

RIMMER:
(Thinks about it. He's quite impressed.) Right, I see. But how would you even begin to build such a case? Where would you conjure up the evidence?

KRYTEN:
Sir, providing I can have completely free access to your personal data files, I think I can come up with the outline of a winning case by lunchtime.

...

KRYTEN:
The mind-probe was created to detect guilt, yet in the case of Arnold Judas Rimmer the guilt it detected attaches to no crime. He held a position of little or no authority on Red Dwarf. He was a lowly grease-monkey, a nothing, a piece of sputum floating in the toilet bowl of life.

RIMMER is unsure how to react to this.

KRYTEN:
Yet he could never come to terms with a lifetime of under- achievement. His absurdly inflated ego would never permit it. He's like the security guard on the front gate who considers himself head of the corporation. So, when the crew were wiped out by a nuclear accident, Arnold Rimmer accepted the blame: it was his ship, ergo his fault. I ask the court: look at this man. This man who sat and failed his astronavigation exam on no less than thirteen occasions. This sad man, this pathetic man, this joke of a man...

RIMMER:
(Discreetly) Kryten. You're going over the top. The computer will never buy it.

KRYTEN:
Trust me, sir. My whole case hinges on proving you're a dork.

RIMMER:
(Reluctantly) Understood.

KRYTEN:
(Aloud) I call my first witness.

LISTER crosses to stand, wearing some sort of apology for a tie.

KRYTEN:
Name?

LISTER:
Dave Lister.

KRYTEN:
Occupation?

LISTER:
(Thinks about it. Shrugs.) Bum.

KRYTEN:
Would you describe the accused as a friend?

CAT:
(Calls) Take the Fifth!

KRYTEN:
Answer the question, please. Remember, you're under polygraphic surveillance. Would you describe the accused as a friend?

LISTER:
No, I would describe the accused as a git.

KRYTEN:
Who would you say, then, is the person who thinks of him most fondly?

LISTER:
(Thinks about it, and answers truthfully) Me.

KRYTEN:
And there are no others who've shared moments of intimacy with him?

LISTER:
Only one. But she's got a puncture.

RIMMER:
Objection.

JUSTICE:
Overruled.

KRYTEN:
So you wouldn't describe him as a man with a good social life?

LISTER:
He partied less than Rudolf Hess. He was totally dedicated to his career. He was in charge of Z shift, and it occupied his every waking moment.

KRYTEN:
And what was Z shift's most important duty?

LISTER:
Well, we had lots of duties around the ship, but I suppose our most vital responsibility was making sure the vending machines didn't run out of fun-size Munchie Bars.

KRYTEN:
Can you envisage a situation where the lack of honeycomb-centred chocolate bars might be the direct cause of a lethal radiation leak?

LISTER:
Not off the top of my head, no.

KRYTEN:
(Turns) I ask the court one key question: would the Space Corps have allowed this man (Points at RIMMER) ever to be in a position where he might endanger the ship? A man so petty and small-minded he would while away his evenings sewing name labels on to his ship-issue condoms? A man of such awesome stupidity...

RIMMER:
Objection.

JUSTICE:
Objection overruled.

KRYTEN:
A man of such awesome stupidity, he even objects to his own defence counsel. An over-zealous, trumped up little squirt...

RIMMER:
Objection.

JUSTICE:
Overruled.

KRYTEN:
An incompetent vending-machine repairman with a Napoleon complex, who commanded as much respect and affection from his fellow crew members as Long John Silver's parrot...

RIMMER:
Objection.

JUSTICE:
If you object to your own counsel once more, Mr Rimmer, you'll be in contempt.

KRYTEN:
Who would put this man, this joke of a man, a man who couldn't outwit a used tea bag, in a position of authority where he could wipe out an entire crew? Who? Only a yoghurt. This man is not guilty of manslaughter. He's only guilty of being Arnold J. Rimmer. That is his crime. It is also his punishment. Defence rests.

"I don't believe the government met its burden," Richey said. "The government has to prove that (Kent Hovind) knew he had a duty under the law to pay those taxes."

Is this guy really a lawyer? This defense certainly haven't helped the other Constitutionalists charged of tax-evation.

By Kristjan Wager (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

we're supposed to believe that he was simply a blank-eyed, dumb-as-a-stick dullard

Of course not. He's a googley-eyed, crazy-as-a-shithouse-rat hillbilly zealot.

Perhaps this spectacularly sparse defense is in preparation for Hovind's inevitable request for an appeal based on poor legal representation?

Doesn't Hovind merely need to pray now? Prayer works, right?

Of course the Hovinds aren't going to face the "full penalty" of 200-odd years in prison each. One of my pet peeves is the lazy journalistic practice of multiplying the maximum possible sentence by the number of counts, hence the ridiculous numbers. Any criminal lawyer could give a reporter a realistic range of plausible sentences. It used to be even easier under the federal sentencing guidelines, but it still takes little more than a couple of phone calls to get a useful estimate.
Not only is this practice lazy, it feeds appetites for absurd sentences. For most crimes, except the worst and the demented sentences for some drug crimes, 5-10 years of real jail time is a very tough sentence, but people don't realize how bad it is and demand blood.

By CJColucci (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

Of course the Hovinds aren't going to face the "full penalty" of 200-odd years in prison each. One of my pet peeves is the lazy journalistic practice of multiplying the maximum possible sentence by the number of counts, hence the ridiculous numbers. Any criminal lawyer could give a reporter a realistic range of plausible sentences. It used to be even easier under the federal sentencing guidelines, but it still takes little more than a couple of phone calls to get a useful estimate.
Not only is this practice lazy, it feeds appetites for absurd sentences. For most crimes, except the worst and the demented sentences for some drug crimes, 5-10 years of real jail time is a very tough sentence, but people don't realize how bad it is and demand blood.

By CJColucci (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

It's amazing to me how somebody who surrounds himself with the easily duped can come to think that his followers are an accurate representation of the population at large. I honestly think that he might have such a warped view of his brilliance vs everybody else's stupidity that he believes that this will work.

I imagine it's kind of like being a preschool teacher. Even if you're a perfectly normal and intelligent adult, you probably have to think a little bit about how to interact with other adults if you spend all day keeping a bunch of toddlers from eating paste. I think that Hovind may just have spent so long away from an audience of people who have basic reasoning skills that he's forgotten how to appeal to them.

By Troublesome Frog (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

Hmm, IIRC, when a lawyer presents a "no defense" case, I do believe the standard idea is to present the trial as having "no credibility" as grounds for appeal.

I expect Hovind will appeal this as far as it will go, for the publicity if nothing else.

I expect Hovind will appeal this as far as it will go

Yeah, but how far can this dog run stretch?

I hope Dr. Dino skips town and is taken down by Dog (just freed from his ankle bracelet) The Bounty Hunter, in full view of the cameras, of course.

Not surprising.

If they get 5-10 years... I'll be satisfied.

OK Wintermute, put up the court verdict from Red Dwarf for us.
It will be an interesting contrast to Hovinds, yet with some odd similarities.