Gerry Spence Witness Examination Excerpts, by Paul Luvera, Plaintiff Trial Lawyer Tips
In 1985, a man was shot dead on a rural road in Lincoln County, Ore. A teenage boy and his mother were indicted for the crime. Gerry Spence took on both cases for the defense pro bono and faced off against a young prosecutor named Joshua Marquis in the juvenile’s trial; the attorneys did not take a shine to each other. So contentious was the trial that they both ended up before the Oregon State Bar. A special report in the bar matter described their relationship as ‘reveal[ing] a degree of hostility and vituperation unique in our experience.’ The bar charges were dismissed, but the animosity remained. Spence wrote a book about the Oregon trials The Smoking Gun.
I was at the courthouse in Portland during a day or two of this trial. I was able to spend some time with Gerry and his partner during recess. He did an amazing job of obtaining an acquittal for his client. I have part of the transcript of that trial. I recently re-read Gerry’s examination of the polygraph operator from that trial. Gerry’s position was the accuser, wife of the deceased, was actually the one who accidentally shot her own husband and then blamed his client who was a neighbor. He called the polygraph operator to show the accuser had failed the polygraph test. I’m setting out a few illustrations from that transcript for your consideration.