'Big Guns' To Prosecute Ex-IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn

Originally published on June 6, 2011 3:51 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

Well, Sean Gardiner of the Wall Street Journal has been covering the case and he joins us to discuss how it's shaping up. Welcome.

SEAN GARDINER: Thank you very much.

LOUISE KELLY: So, assigning these two senior prosecutors to the case, does this suggest that the D.A.s office is gearing up for a tough fight?

GARDINER: Yeah. I mean it's Joan Illuzzi-Orborn and Ann Prunty, and they both have handled very high profile cases in the New York area in the last year. And they look at who's going to be across the table from them. William Taylor is very well respected Washington, D.C. based lawyer who's worked on Whitewater. And then they have Ben Brafman who's one of the top criminal defense attorneys here in New York City, and he handles big time cases like P. Diddy or Michael Jackson, he's handled. And I think the D.A.'s office felt they might as well get their team together right now and start building for those cases going forward.

LOUISE KELLY: So both sides are bringing out the big guns.

GARDINER: Yeah.

LOUISE KELLY: Now, you have written that this is a classic he-said, she-said case.

GARDINER: Right.

LOUISE KELLY: And that Mr. Strauss-Kahn's defense team is going to be looking to try and discredit the maid. What kind of things are they likely to be looking for?

GARDINER: Sometimes they can use it in court, but like you see in a lot of these other high profile cases where celebrities or other well-known people are accused of rape, sometimes these reports just make it into the media and...

LOUISE KELLY: Right, because there are rape-shield laws to try to protect this from being the kind of thing were the accuser ends up being basically on trial trying to defend their reputation.

GARDINER: That's right. And - but what happens is a lot of these allegations make their way out into the media and a lot of people think that it muddies the waters for, like, the jurors. They end up learning about it and they go in there with bias against the victim.

LOUISE KELLY: Now in this case, is it safe to assume that prosecutors are conducting their own parallel investigation, trying to dig up whatever dirt they can about Mr. Strauss-Kahn?

GARDINER: Sure, sure, and then not only prosecutors, but the defense team.

LOUISE KELLY: Because they want to know what the other side may have on their guy.

GARDINER: Exactly right.

LOUISE KELLY: Huh.

GARDINER: Right, and so they'll have dual investigations. As one investigator told me, you can never trust your client to tell you the whole truth. So you've got to do your own investigations, like he's the defendant in the case and you're going after him just so you can head off what you expect that the prosecution is going to be able to dig up.

LOUISE KELLY: Does Dominique Strauss-Kahn have any choice in terms of strategy other than just fighting this head on? Could he, for example, plead to lesser charges and try to avoid what surely would be a very embarrassing public trial?

GARDINER: So - and even if they did offer, I don't see - given even that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has got, you know, this reputation for being an international business man and, you know, a onetime French presidential candidate, that he can accept anything other than what he claims happened that he's completely innocent and that he's being set up.

LOUISE KELLY: One last thing to ask you, Sean, last week a jury in New York acquitted two police officers who had been accused of raping a young woman. Any lessons from that case that might apply, here, to the Strauss-Kahn case or are they just too different to draw any connections?

GARDINER: But the one thing for the D.A.'s office is, is that last week was a big loss on a big case, in a rape case, and this is going to be their next big rape case, so they can't afford to lose again.

LOUISE KELLY: Sean Gardiner, thanks very much.

GARDINER: Thank you.

LOUISE KELLY: Sean Gardiner has been covering the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case for the Wall Street Journal. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.