Tension, zingers reign in courtroom
Judge Nottingham uses a movie quote to bolster his argument that
laws should apply to the rich
By Greg Griffin and Andy Vuong, Staff Writers
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Friday's sentencing of Joe Nacchio was more
crowded than any single day during his trial and was at
tension-filled as the day his verdict was rendered.
There were a few awkward moments, such as when Nacchio
approached the bench to attempt to make an unsolicited statement
at the end of the hearing and was rebuffed by U.S. District
Judge Edward Nottingham.
There were also lighter moments during the otherwise grim
proceedings -- including a few one-liners from Nottingham.
The biggest laugh came after Nottingham ordered Nacchio to pay
$19 million fine and forfeit $52 million in ill-gotten gains and
was lecturing him on the importance of applying the law
"The law does not care that you are wealthy, or at least ...
were wealthy," Nottingham said. On that subject, Nottingham,
who earlier in the hearing had referenced "The Three Stooges,"
read an exchange from the 1966 movie, "A Man for All Seasons."
In the film, Nottingham recounted, Sir Thomas More speaks on the
importance of laws:
"This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast,
man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down, do you really
think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow
them? Yes, I'd give the devil the benefit of the law for my own
safety's sake," Nottingham quoted.
Later, Nottingham told Nacchio that his presentence
investigative report indicated he was developing a "borderline
alcohol abuse problem" and that he should enroll in a treatment
"I can understand how anybody under the stress you're under ...
would start drinking," Nottingham said.
On the way our, the Nacchio camp was almost bum-rushed by a
television reporter even though security guards cleared a path
for the group to get to their chauffeured rides. Nacchio's
wide, Anne Esker, nearly stumbled while rushing to get into
their white Chevy.