Barring a settlement, it looks as though the trial in which the Mets owners are being accused of either knowing about or being negligent regarding the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme is going to go down next month. And though the ultimate outcome of that trial will have a big impact on the Mets, the blow-by-blow of it all is not really about baseball — and it’s kind of boring — so we haven’t been following it too closely recently.
But there’s a story in the New York Times that is interesting enough to catch my attention. It’s about the Wilpons’ sole expert witness in the case. An expert witness — by the name of John Maine, which is cool — who will testify that the Wilpons had no reason to know what was going on and had adequately fulfilled their duties once they learned what was happening. He did that once before in another case, however, and it didn’t go so well:
Maine testified that the supervisor’s responsibilities for protecting against fraud were limited, and effectively ended when he reported suspicions about the broker up the chain of command at Dean Witter. The expert testimony didn’t fly. Indeed, the S.E.C. judge overseeing the case against the supervisor actually offered a withering critique of Maine’s testimony.
Maine “had not read any case law on the topic” at hand, Thomas Kelly, the administrative law judge, wrote in his opinion. The judge also said that it appeared Maine’s “written expert testimony was prepared in large part” not by Maine, but by the supervisor’s lawyers who had hired him.
Now, this was a long time ago, and he has since testified in many, many cases. If they had consistently gone bad, you can imagine that the Times would have dug them up too. Being an expert witness is quite often a professional gig, and sometimes an expert’s testimony and credibility is blown out of the water in one case while it carries the day wonderfully in the next.
But it’s still kind of interesting. And it reminds us that the Wilpons have an awful lot riding on this case.