This morning Judge Shea charged the jury. It took about an hour for Judge Shea to read the instructions. The judge gave each juror a copy of the instructions to read along. Jury instructions can be confusing and contain a lot of legalese. Legal scholars have debated whether jury instructions should be more simplified.
The judge told the jury that they must decide whether Daniel Greer is liable in his individual capacity for raping Eli Mirlis, and whether the Yeshiva of New Haven is liable for not protecting Eli Mirlis. If they decide that Greer and the Yeshiva are liable, then they have to come up with an award of compensation for Eli Mirlis, consisting of compensatory damages and punitive damages.
After the jury charge, the lawyers in the Greer child rape case each made closing arguments. Attorney Ponvert went first. Ponvert described to the jury how Mirlis was subjected repeatedly to forced anal sex, fondling, and oral sex. Ponvert spoke about how Dr. Ford testified that such abuse as an adolescent, at a time when one is figuring out his identity, subjects one to a sense of shame, self disgust and anxiety for the rest of his life, an emotional shadow for the rest of his life, it won’t go away. All of these things, we already know happen, we don’t need an expert to tell us.”
Ponvert told the jury, “If Dan Greer did not molest Mirlis, then Mirlis, Shira Mirlis, Avi Hack, and Dr. Ford are all liars. If you think that they are all lying, then rule for the Defendant and be quick about it. The Defendant offered no legitimate reason as to why he refused to answer questions and take the Fifth Amendment.”
Ponvert continued: “When Greer accused Mirlis of being a liar in Court, he re-traumatized a victim of sexual abuse. It was like twisting the knife in Mirlis, horrific. Greer wants you to put your hands over his, and twist the knife.”
Ponvert told the jury: “If Avi Hack was lying, why would he confess to a decades long relationship with Greer and expose himself to charges that he failed to report the abuse to authorities? What would be the motivation? Retribution? Retribution for what? Avi and Mirlis honored Daniel Greer.”
Ponvert continued: “Greer is calling Dr. Ford a liar? A board certified doctor with 40 years experience was completely taken in and duped? Where is the defendant’s expert? They could have hired their own expert and evaluate Mirlis and tell you Mirlis wasn’t harmed, but they didn’t do that because they know Mirlis was abused.”
Ponvert: “Daniel Greer’s guilt screamed out during the trial. He took the Fifth Amendment when I asked if he had sex with Mirlis in a motel, when I asked if he showed Mirlis pornography, when I asked whether he gave Mirlis alcohol, yet when I asked him if he had sex with Mirlis on a blanket in the woods in Bethany, he said “no.” Greer had complicated and manipulated these proceedings and has been contemptuous of this court.”
Ponvert: “The first kiss with Greer occurred when Greer was talking to Mirlis about his past, about his childhood. That’s when Eli Mirlis gets emotional, that’s when a predator moves in, the predator uses Eli’s trust as an opening to having sex with a child. The justice system is not perfect. If we could put Greer in jail we would, but money is the only form of compensation we have available.”
Ponvert: “Eli Mirlis told us about his first sexual experience with a girl in the eighth grade, he kissed a girl. It wasn’t forced anal or oral sex in a hot tub in a motel in Branford. His first experience was not with a 60 year old man, not with a rabbi. At the end of our lives what do we have? Relationships. Eli doesn’t have that, he is a very lonely man.”
Ponvert argued to the jury that Mirlis should be awarded $38 million. Ponvert came up with that number by putting a value of $1 million for each sexual assault, and there were at least 42 separate assaults. Ponvert then calculated the life expectancy of Mirlis, which is another 70 years that Mirlis will suffer. Ponvert argued that this was worth $1 million per year and came up with $70 million. Ponvert then discounted the number to $38 million.
Mirlis would never be able to collect $38 million from the goat. The goat is worth between five and ten million. The Goat would have to file bankruptcy. The Goat’s assets would be auctioned off. Larry Noodles will be there to bid on the Goat’s goats.
Ward then made his closing argument to the jury. Ward began by telling the jury that the Fifth Amendment was not a “punch line.” Ward argued to the jury that Ponvert was asking the Goat “loaded questions” forcing the Goat to take the Fifth Amendment. In Ward’s feeble mind, asking the Goat whether he molested Mirlis is a “loaded question.” Ward told the jury that the judge instructed them that they “may” make an adverse inference against the Goat for refusing to testify but they didn’t have to. Ward was basically arguing to the jury that they should take the side of the Goat for no other reason other than Ward telling them to.
Ward went on to argue to the jury that this case is not ordinary, it is a “complicated case, weird, odd, strange, a mystery.” The only thing odd and strange about this case is the Goat and his wife the Ewe. While on the subject of the Ewe, to set the record straight, an Ewe is a female sheep. There is no law against a goat marrying an ewe in the State of Connecticut. Larry Noodles will not change her name to “Nanny.”
Ward then proceeded to mercilessly attack rape victims Mirlis and Hack. Ward could have taken the high road and ask the jury to carefully consider the evidence and testimony and give the Goat the benefit of the doubt. That would have been too easy. Instead, Ward resorted to sleeze tactics. Ward told the jury: “Mirlis admitted that he lied and admitted that he is a cheat.” With a straight face Ward argued that Mirlis went on a “field trip in Paoli, PA, with his parents permission.” Only the Yeshiva of New Haven offered overnight field trips in private motel rooms, with a hot tub, with the rabbi.
Ward continued to attack Mirlis: “Ledbury testified that Mirlis stole her keys.” In Ward’s World the best way to prove that someone is dishonest is to bring up a prank from high school. Ward must have received his law degree from a box of Frosted Flakes, his arguments were very flaky.
Ward’s World continued to attack Avi Hack: “Avi tried to get Greer to leave since the Spring of 2011, and described Greer as a meddling old man. Avi is the only other child who made these claims other than Mirlis.” I guess two students who make these claims against the Goat is not enough for Ward’s World. Ward wants to see at least fifty students who claim rape before he believes anyone.
Ward’s World attacked the parts of Avi’s videotaped deposition where Avi got choked up and couldn’t speak. How low can Ward go? Ward said to the jury, “Remember the long pauses in Avi’s testimony? I asked him whether he was molested in high school. He said he needed time to think of something that would jog his memory. Do you really need something to jog your memory in order to remember something like sexual abuse???”
Ward’s sick world had no shame. Ward mercilessly mocked Mirlis. Ward made funny faces to the jury and said that Mirlis “looked distraught on the witness stand, he had a sad sack affect.” Ward ridiculed Mirlis for not appearing during much of the trial. Ward said, “There was no evidence that counselors advised Mirlis to stay away from the trial, that it was too traumatizing.”
Ponvert got ten minutes to rebut Ward’s sick world. Ponvert told jurors, “I can’t believe that Greer’s lawyer called Mirlis a liar and a cheat throughout his closing. This is the reason Eli Mirlis is not here.”
Ponvert pointed out to jurors that everyone referred to the Branford Motel as “the Branford Motel.” Only the Goat referred to the Branford Motel by it’s proper name, ie., “the Branford Motor Inn.”
Ponvert finished by addressing the conspiracy defense argued by Ward’s World: “If this was a massive plot or conspiracy or plot to take over, then Ezi Greer and Harold Hack were part of it, as the transfer documents had their names as part of the takeover. This was not a conspiracy, this was everyone trying to get this pedophile out of a position where he could molest children.”
The jury was sent to lunch. After lunch the jury came back and deliberated. At about 3PM the jury presented a question to Judge Shea: “If we finish this evening will we be able to reach a decision tonight or have to come back tomorrow?” The judge told them they can go home if they reach a decision tonight.
After some period of time the jurors asked another question: “Can we have some donuts and coffee from Dunkin Donuts?” The Judge had the clerk pick them up donuts and coffee.
During deliberations the Goat sat at counsel table in the courtroom, while the Ewe sat behind him. They were both reading. The Goat drank water from a large thermos type pitcher of water that was supplied by the court clerks. The Goat didn’t check for a hechsher on the pitcher or ask whether the keylim was properly toyveled. The Goat tried to get a court clerk to pour him the water but she refused and just left the pitcher and walked away. The Ewe would not drink from the court provided pitchers of water, she is more machmir than her Goat.
The Goat didn’t look very happy during most of the deliberations. The Goat cheered up at 4:43 PM when the jury wrote this note: “We would like to see the transcript of Avi Hack’s video deposition.” Judge Shea wrote back a note indicating that they could see portions of the videotaped deposition if they wanted.
This note would seem to indicate that the jury is struggling with the testimony of Avi Hack. Or it could mean that the jury wants to look at the long pauses in Avi’s testimony, as Ward’s World had argued were faked. Or it could mean that the jury wasn’t sure about how to make the Yeshiva of New Haven liable for damages caused by it’s agents, such as Avi. Either way, the Goat was a pig in drek. The Goat smiled and proudly walked out of the courtroom at 5 PM with his arm around Ward’s World. Grudberg seems to be keeping his distance from the Goat.
The Goat didn’t notice, but when the jurors came out to be excused for the day at 5 PM, not one of them glanced at the Goat. That is not a good sign.
There were three extended Greer clan members present in the Courtroom, on the Mirlis side. Mirlis had a good crowd. A few former students from New York also made the long journey to support Mirlis, along with Mirlis family members. And there was also the ever present reporter from the New Haven Independent Christopher Peak. Paul Bass remains holed up in his cubicle on Orange Street. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio????
The jurors will deliberate tomorrow morning at 9 AM. Stay tuned…