Buttman Trial: The Bradley Effect
A report from City Paper intern and special Buttman correspondent Juliana Brint:
Unlike the first two days of of the John "Buttman" Stagliano trial, yesterday's court session involved no video evidence. Despite the lack of porn screenings, though, someone in the courtroom was still getting fucked: the prosecution.
Prosecutors needed to rebound after yesterday's Fetish Fanatic 5 fiasco—which resulted in the barring of the trailer as evidence, thanks to a corrupted file—but the cross-examination of FBI Agent Daniel Bradley, the government's chief witness, raised a whole new set of problems for Prosecutor Pamela Satterfield.
When asked during cross-examination when he last viewed the charged films, Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters 2: Target Practice, Bradley answered that Satterfield had told him that Judge Richard Leon wanted him to review the films before the trial, so he re-watched them in full last Wednesday.
If Bradley's testimony were accurate, it would almost certainly necessitate a mistrial—it's not exactly kosher for the presiding judge to be advising lawyers on how to prepare their cases. But Leon was adamant that he had never issued instructions of this kind to the prosecution, and Satterfield concurred—meaning Bradley had, knowingly or not, issued false testimony.
After the jury and witnesses were released for the day, Leon and the lawyers discussed how best to address "the Bradley situation." Leon made it clear that he would issue a statement to the jury assuring them that the court had never instructed Bradley to watch Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters 2 in preparation for trial. But the defense team argued that a remedy would have to be more extensive than that.
Because Bradley attributed the instructions to Leon through Satterfield, the defense argued that they have the right to call Satterfield to the stand to give testimony on the matter. Doing so, however, would make her an impeaching witness against the central witness in her own case—and would force her to recuse herself as prosecutor.
Leon suggested that it might be possible to find a way around that outcome, possibly by having Satterfield issue an affidavit. Leon said he would rule on how the issue will be handled this morning.
Regardless of how the false testimony is addressed, though, it will probably cause a significant blow to Bradley's credibility as a witness, upon which the lion's share of the government's case rests.
"How can [Satterfield] vouch for the credibility of her witness before the jury?" Defense Attorney H. Louis Sirkin asked.
"I would say gingerly," Leon replied.