Business As Usual

The State Bar of Texas tries again to KAYO John O'Quinn but can't lay a glove on him

"Don't misunderstand me, that was bad business over there, what Charles and Betty Edward and Carlos Williams did over there in South Carolina," Don Riddle said. "But because John O'Quinn paid for what he thought was a legitimate investigation, then he must be in on the deal, the bar says. But if that's true, why didn't he pay?" he asked, saying Edward and others were still claiming they were owed money.

It was the bar who was embracing people like Betty Edward and Charles Musslewhite, the defense argued. Charles knew he would get a larger cut of any new cases, so that is what he concentrated on.

"Charles left town with a fistful of money and a couple of people working for him, and he decided hey, why spend a lot of time investigating, because the [National Transportation Safety Board] is going to investigate anyway. I'll take Betty and George and line up a local guy, and we'll go get cases," Riddle said.

Jury members didn't have much to say after the verdict, but it was clear they didn't take long to make up their minds. While they were out for almost two and a half hours, they took a 20-minute break and took their time reading the charge. Actual deliberations took less than an hour, one said.

The verdict came back so fast that O'Quinn and some of his lawyers weren't even in the courtroom when it was announced. O'Quinn was sprinting down the hallway when he heard the loud cheers that went up from dozens of his supporters. He began crying almost immediately.

After accepting congratulations for a half-hour or so, an exhausted and enervated O'Quinn gave a statement to the press. Speaking slowly, as a cordon of friends and attorneys hovered protectively behind him, he wouldn't answer but one or two questions.

"It is hard for me to express what I feel right now. I am extremely happy this terrible ordeal is over, this nightmare that I and my family and my friends, the people I work with who are my friends, and the clients who are my friends, have endured. Even when you're innocent, you never know because innocent men are occasionally convicted," he said.

He said a juror had told him during the postverdict crush "how stumped and astounded they were at how pitiful and weak the evidence was that the bar was presenting."

O'Quinn said he did not expect the trial to end his ongoing battle with the bar. "All I know is what my friend Ernest Cannon said today; he said, 'John, they are going to stay after you until they get your license, but I don't think they are going to get it today.' "

By then, the bar's lawyers had slipped quietly away. Their Great White Whale had eluded them again.

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