Judge Refuses To Hear Midair Witnesses

 - August 31, 2010, 9:32 AM

The criminal trial of the American pilots of the Legacy jet that collided with a Boeing 737 over the Amazon in 2006 moved forward this month when the judge decided he has no need to hear seven defense witnesses. Mato Grosso federal court judge Fábio Henrique Rodrigues de Moraes Fiorenzage ruled that the witnesses’ testimony was dispensable because they were either passengers on the Legacy who lacked technical knowledge or aviation specialists who did not witness the episode, according to Joel Weiss, attorney for the Legacy’s pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino. The judge rejected the expert witnesses put forth by the defense, instead asking the Brazilian Air Force to supply someone from among its personnel to explain the ATC system. Weiss told AIN that the government’s witness “was hired by the personal injury lawyer who is representing the widow of the decedent, and separately that lawyer has managed to have himself appointed as an assistant prosecutor in the case. The net effect of this is the government’s expert is being paid by a civil litigant trying to get a money recovery from this accident, a situation that would never occur in the U.S. or in any refined system of justice.” Weiss is preparing a writ to appeal the judge’s decision.