- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Attorneys for Al Gore and George W. Bush last night raced through closing arguments in the dramatic conclusion of an urgent trial over the vice president’s lawsuit to overturn the outcome of the election. A ruling in the matter was expected today.
Leon County Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls adjourned the two-day, 23-hour trial at 10:44 p.m. With the Dec. 12 deadline for the selection of Florida’s 25 electors looming, Gore lawyers desperately need an immediate recount of thousands of ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
“At this time counsel, I must tell you: A case well tried and argued,” Judge Sauls told both sides. “And I suppose what I should do at this time is I’ll take it under submission. And I’ll give you a decision in the morning.
“The court will stand in recess,” he added before leaving the courtroom to ponder his decision.
The move capped a marathon, expedited trial that could determine the next president of the United States. Both sides presented passionate arguments.
“Are there legal votes that have not been counted?” Gore attorney David Boies asked in his closing argument. The answer, he said, is yes.
The Bush team countered that there is no need to hand count ballots that have already been counted by machine at least twice. Bush lawyer Barry Richard renewed his call for Judge Sauls to dismiss the suit, saying the Gore team was “light years” away from proving its case.
In a second marathon day of testimony, sparks flew when Bush attorney Phil Beck accused Mr. Boies of “grandstanding.” The exchange came as Mr. Boies tried to discredit Bush witness Laurentius Marais, a statistician who himself was trying to discredit a Gore statistician’s testimony on the error rate of voting machines.
“You have testified that certain statistical analyses that link lead paint with injuries to children didn’t meet your standards for statistical scientific analysis, correct?” Mr. Boies said.
“No, sir,” Mr. Marais replied.
“You didn’t do that?” said Mr. Boies, who appeared taken aback.
“Um, well sir, what did you testify?”
Mr. Beck interjected: “Your honor, I’m going to object to the relevance of this. In any event, if time is short, why is he quizzing him about other …”
“Your honor, I think it goes to his credibility,” Mr. Boies shot back. “And I think it goes to the way he performs statistical analysis.”
Judge Sauls ruled it was “irrelevant” to include “testimony from some other case,” especially one that had “absolutely no materiality” to the Gore lawsuit.
“Would the court permit a comparison of the way he approaches whether the scientific statistical analysis in other cases with the way he’s done it here?” Mr. Boies ventured.
But the judge refused. The usually unflappable Gore attorney seemed momentarily flummoxed by the setback. As he hesitated, Mr. Beck jumped into the void.
“I’m going to ask the court to admonish Mr. Boies about his obligation not to go down that route unless he has a legitimately held belief that there is a difference in methodology,” the Bush lawyer said. “Because otherwise all he’s doing is grandstanding and saying that this man testified in cases that Mr. Boies thinks will be unpopular with the public. And that’s not right.”
“Your honor, I’m not grandstanding,” protested Mr. Boies, who nonetheless agreed to “abandon” that line of questioning.
Earlier, Mr. Marais had challenged the argument that faulty voting machines cost Mr. Gore more votes than Mr. Bush. Lawyers for the vice president suggested Democrats in poor counties had to use older, less reliable machines than Republicans in rich counties.
“The vice president was wrong about that,” said Mr. Marais, adding that there was “absolutely” no statistical basis for the argument.
The other main witness of the day was John Ahmann, who helped pioneer the decades-old technology still used in many voting machines in Florida.
Testifying at the request of Bush lawyers, Mr. Ahmann challenged the argument that Mr. Gore should get credit for ballots on which voters merely “dimpled” but did not dislodge tiny rectangles of paper next to the vice president’s name.
“It’s quite possible that you can dimple the chad while having no intention of voting,” Mr. Ahmann said.
To drive home that point, the Bush lawyers briefly presented a Florida policeman who said he might have dimpled his ballot, but does not want it counted. The witness explained that he began to push the metal stylus through the chad before he pulled back, deciding not to vote for president after all.
Bush lawyers also attacked the theory of “chad buildup,” which a Gore witness had introduced on Saturday. The vice president contends that so many chads piled up in voting machines that they prevented voters from pushing the stylus through the chad denoting Mr. Gore.
“I seriously doubt that a voter would be unable to push the chad through on a normal voting device,” Mr. Ahmann said.
Gore lawyer Steve Zack countered that it has been eight years since some of the voting machines in question have been cleaned.
He and the rest of the Gore team, anxious for a speedy trial, summoned no new witnesses after calling only two Saturday. That left the Bush team all of yesterday to call witnesses who challenged the vice president’s lawsuit.
Much of the time was consumed by several Republican lawyers who were called as witnesses to describe the chaotic conditions and changing rules of hand recounts they observed in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. While these witnesses broke little new ground, Bush attorneys felt it was important to establish an official record in case Mr. Gore loses the case and appeals to a higher court.
One witness was Shirley King, chairman of the Nassau County Canvassing Board, who challenged an argument by the Gore team that she deprived the vice president of votes. Specifically, Mr. Gore has argued that the Nassau board should have stuck with its machine recount, which gave him more votes, and ignored its original machine count.
But Mrs. King explained yesterday that she accidentally omitted 218 votes during the machine recount. That’s how many presidential ballots, which bear a red stripe along one edge, were stored upside down in ballot boxes, prompting poll workers to overlook them during the recount.
When she realized the error, Mrs. King reverted to the original count, which was certified by Florida’s secretary of state.
“I wanted every vote to count,” Mrs. King said.
Bush lawyers noted with irony that this is precisely the mantra of Mr. Gore in other counties, where he believes he can pick up more votes.
Judge Sauls, who originally predicted the trial would take only one day, hurried lawyers from both sides through hour after hour of testimony on the trial’s second day. He also allowed brief presentations by several intervenors in the case.
These included Bush supporter Matt Butler of Collier County, who argued that it was unfair to limit hand recounts to the Democratic counties of Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward.
“It places my vote at a disadvantage,” Mr. Butler testified. “It makes my vote potentially worth less than the vote of someone else’s.”
He added: “I want the same rules applied to my vote as to anybody else’s vote in the state.”
As the trial continued last night, it was not clear when Judge Sauls would rule on the case.

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