March 2, 2009 in Region

Victim-witnesses waive right to attend Grace trial

Associated Press
Trial coverage
University of Montana law and journalism students are covering the W.R. Grace trial via a blog.

MISSOULA — Government witnesses who are victims of asbestos exposure have waived their right to observe the W.R. Grace & Co. environmental crimes trial in Montana.

On Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals instructed U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to hold further proceedings to determine whether the victims’ testimony would be affected by observing the trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kris McLean told the court Monday, with the jury absent, that all 26 victim-witnesses who have not yet testified agreed to waive their right to observe the trial.

Molloy said the trial would resume Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in Missoula.

After the cross-examination of government witness Paul Peronard is completed, the government intends to call two Libby asbestos victims, Melvin and Lerah Parker, whose lawyer successfully appealed Molloy’s Feb. 13 ruling barring witness who are asbestos exposure victims from observing the trial.

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