Currie trial begins with opening statements
The federal prosecutors sought to invoke generally negative views held by many toward elected officials and business leaders, repeatedly referring to Currie as a "politician" and his two co-defendants from Shoppers as "corporate executives."
Defense attorneys tried to counter those images immediately. Lucius Outlaw, one of Currie's public defenders, used the first moments of his opening statement to request that jurors "push out of your mind" all "natural conclusions" made when an elected official is charged with a crime. Instead, Outlaw stressed Currie's humble roots. He is the son of a sharecropper who moved to Maryland and taught for years in public schools.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O. Gavin described Currie as holding "one of the most powerful positions in our state" as the chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. But Outlaw was quick to point out that Currie was unable even to persuade state roads officials to move a stoplight for a Shoppers store.
Attorneys for the two Shoppers execs sought to draw sympathetic portraits of their clients: Former President William White was described as a hard working everyman who worked his way up from a grocery store clerk to the top levels of the company. An attorney for former Shoppers real estate VP Kevin Small explained that he has a learning disability that has hampered him for years.
Former state highway administration head Neil Pedersen is expected to testify this afternoon.