|Jefferson lawyers question federal agents|
Lawyers for Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.),
looking to suppress evidence from his trial on corruption charges,
questioned federal agents in court Wednesday about their August 2005
search of his home.
The lawyers argued that photographs taken by agents of correspondence between Jefferson, his brother and companies looking to invest in Africa shouldn’t be shown to a jury because they weren’t listed in the search warrant.
Lisa Horner, the leader of the FBI search team, testified that photographing the documents, instead of seizing them, was the more conservative, and thus appropriate, approach.
Federal prosecutors said that Jefferson tried to use the influence of his congressional office to procure contracts for those companies in exchange for bribes. Jefferson, who attended Wednesday’s hearing, has pleaded not guilty to all 11 felony counts.
Jefferson’s lawyers have also asked that the court exclude his statements made before federal agents before the search began. They claim Jefferson was coerced into those statements by the agents, who should have read him his Miranda rights.
Daniel Evans, one of two FBI agents who interviewed Jefferson for two hours, testified that Jefferson acted like a gentleman during the interview and was free to leave as he wished. The other FBI agent who interviewed Jefferson in his house will testify Thursday, as the hearing on the motions continue.
Jefferson’s lawyers have also asked Judge T.S. Ellis III to exclude evidence taken from his congressional office, arguing that materials there were protected by the speech and debate clause. They also want him to dismiss six charges, including ones for bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering.