NRA Trial Day Two: The Defendants Make Their Cases

NEW YORK CITY – Day two of the State of New York v, National Rifle Association started with the opening statements from the defense’s side of the aisle. Statements — plural — is the operative word as the NRA and each of the code defendants, minus Josh Powell, also made the cases for their individual clients’ innocence in addition to that of the organization as a whole.

There weren’t a lot of details, but that’s to be expected in opening statements. The defense isn’t expected to prove their assertions. Their job is to cast reasonable doubts on the claims made by the prosecution that are the foundations of the charges against them.

Counsel for the NRA began the argument with a reminder that this trial is actually a group of interwoven cases. The NRA, the jurors were reminded, is not the other defendants in the case (former CFO Wilson Phillips and NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer). The NRA is made up of millions of members who “believe in the organization, its mission, and its objectives.”

That, at least judging from facial expressions, appeared to make an impression on the jurors. The NRA’s attorney also argued that the association had “cleaned up its act” before the chargs were brought by New York AG James.

Following that, it was a morning of characterizations designed to make the remaining individual defendants a bit more personable than the association and its corporate enablers as described by the prosecution.

In the afternoon session, two witnesses testified; former board members Rocky Marshal and Esther Schneider. Both told of their experiences of being stonewalled, impugned, and otherwise minimized by LaPierre’s loyalists. Marshal was solid under cross examination. Schneider will be cross examined first thing tomorrow when court reconvenes.

The biggest surprise of the trial to this point: when defense attorneys made their case that the NRA is more and meant more than just the defendants in the courtroom. They used Olympic shooting legend Kim Rhode as their example. Sitting with LaPierre, Rhode was a pretty solid example of the NRA’s beneficial programs and people.

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