The first day of Keith Raniere’s trial ended on an odd note with Raniere’s lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo, indicating he wanted the presiding judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, to declare a mistrial – and a clearly miffed Judge Garaufis indicating that, if a mistrial is declared, a second trial would not start until September.
Courtroom observers indicated that Agnifilo was displeased over the fact that the lead prosecutor, Moira Kim Penza, had instructed the prosecution’s first witness, a British citizen named Sylvie, that she could mention the last name of someone she was describing during her testimony.
Agnifilo apparently did not object to Penza’s instruction before Sylvie mentioned the person’s last name.
But as soon as the jury had been dismissed for the day, Agnifilo indicated to the court that a mistrial needed to be declared because of the person’s last name being mentioned.
Judge Garaufis chastised Agnifilo for not raising an objection on the matter when it first came up – and heatedly asked him if he really wanted to come back and try the case in September.
Agnifilo responded by telling the judge that he would sooner do that than proceed with a trial that was unfair to his client.
While it is known that Judge Garaufis had decided the prosecution would be allowed to question certain witnesses by their first name only, it is not known exactly which witnesses were affected by that decision (The judge’s order on that matter was filed under seal).
Presumably, the “first name only” ruling applies to all the Jane Does – and perhaps the one John Doe – who may be called to testify in the case. Whether it applied to the person whose last name was mentioned by Sylvie is unknown.
A hearing on the mistrial motion has been set for 9:00 AM tomorrow morning. At the conclusion of that hearing, the judge will decide whether to declare a mistrial.
Hell of a start to the trial…