Trials & Litigation

Defense Lawyer Shouts 'Not Guilty' in Closing, Gives Prosecutors a Chicken Salad Sandwich


A lawyer for an Alabama state senator accused in a vote-buying case defended his client with shouts and a sandwich during closing arguments on Tuesday.

Lawyer Jim Parkman “broke out the courtroom theatrics,” the Birmingham News reports. Parkman shouted “not guilty” at times and ridiculed a casino developer who testified for the prosecution.

The developer, Ronnie Gilley, testified that Parkman’s client, Sen. Harri Anne Smith, changed her vote on a gambling bill as a result of campaign contributions. Parkman ridiculed Gilley’s testimony that he suddenly recalled Smith’s role in 2009 bribes while eating a chicken salad sandwich.

Parkman said prosecutors had miraculously cured Gilley’s memory loss, making his point by giving them a chicken salad sandwich, the story says.

Parkman successfully defended HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in a 2005 fraud trial. (Represented by different lawyers, Scrushy was convicted in a bribery scheme the following year.) A Bloomberg article published in 2005 quoted a radio host who called Parkman “a country hick” and “totally Mayberry.” District Attorney Doug Valeska had his own take on the assessment. “If he’s a hick, I think he’s the smartest, richest hick,” Valeska said at the time.

Valeska told Bloomberg that Parkman used another food analogy to encourage jurors to see his side of the case, this one involving pancakes. “No matter how thin they are, they always have two sides,” Parkman likes to say.

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