As former city Councilor Chuck Turner sat in a West Virginia prison cell, his lawyer yesterday argued that the outspoken activist should get a new trial.
A panel of judges for the First Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments concerning Turner's appeal during a hearing in South Boston yesterday.
At issue are Judge Douglas Woodlock's instructions to the jurors who found Turner, 71, guilty of corruption and lying to federal agents.
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Charles Rankin, an attorney arguing for Turner's new trial, said Woodlock should have explained the difference between a gratuity payment and a bribe to induce favorable treatment from Turner.
"The need to explain to the jury the distinction between those two things was critical," Rankin said.
Kelly Lawrence, an assistant U.S. attorney, said the instructions were sufficient and clear and that Turner knew we has accepting a bribe in advance of his actions that the informant expected would be beneficial.
Lawrence cited a conversation Turner had with the informant who told Turner "you take care of me, I'll take care of you. I'll see you again," was proof enough for the jury.
"Those were the words that proved extortion was occurring, that it wasn't just a gratuity," Lawrence said. "There's ample evidence that Mr. Turner was advancing his actions on behalf of" the informant.
A decision could take months.