Friday, June 5, 2009



Docket No. 09-1006

In the matter of:

The United States of America


Tom Biltmore

CHARGE: (1) “Knowingly transmitting materials dangerous or injurious to life, health or property by the mails” under 18 U.S.C. § 1716(b), and (2) “conspiring to knowingly transmit materials dangerous or injurious to life, health or property by the mails” under 18 U.S.C. § 846.

BEFORE: Hon. Harold H. Hennessey, District Judge

OPENING STATEMENT: Mr. George D. Pullings, Esq., Associate United States Attorney

Good morning. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury and Judge Hennessey, my name is George D. Pullings. I represent you, ladies and gentlemen. I represent the United States of America. It’s my job to put bad men behind bars. It’s my job to enforce your laws every single day. And today it’s my job to prove to you that that man sitting over there, Tom Biltmore, abused our mail system by knowingly sending pictures of hamsters to his friend, Fred Jackson, in Columbus, Ohio. By the end of this trial, the evidence will show that Mr. Biltmore not only knew what he was doing; it’s also going to show that he did it intentionally. And I’m confident that you will return a verdict against him.

This is not a case about hamsters. It’s not even a case about pictures. This case is about safety. You’re going to hear a lot of excuses and explanations from Mr. Biltmore. He’s going to tell you he didn’t know he was sending pictures. He’s going to tell you he didn’t know that pictures of hamsters were dangerous. But let’s focus in on what’s really important in this case: Safety. Without safety, our country could not function. If our country were not safe, our children could not go to school. Our schools could not function without safety or the mail system. Thus, our mail service demands safety, and as citizens we have a duty to make sure that our mail system is safe. When men like Tom Biltmore knowingly send hamster pictures through the mail, we not only endanger our mail system; we also endanger our children. Basically, ladies and gentlemen, we cannot tolerate people who abuse our mail system.

Today, we will show you evidence that will prove that Tom Biltmore owned hamster pictures. We will call an acquaintance to the stand—Phil Parker—who will testify that he saw Tom put hamster pictures in an 8 ½ X 11 inch Handi-Mailer® envelope. Phil is also going to tell you that he saw Tom put that envelope in a mailbox, and he is going to tell you that Tom said: “I can’t wait until Fred sees those hamster pictures” as they walked back home. You are going to hear that Phil has nothing to gain by testifying. In fact, Phil and Tom have been friends for years. But he is not a snitch. He is not testifying in exchange for lenient treatment. Indeed, he does not even have a criminal record and has never been arrested. When you hear from Phil, you can trust him. He is just going to tell you what he saw. And what he saw is enough to find Tom Biltmore guilty.

But that’s not all. As prosecutors, we have a duty to establish that the defendant violated the law. In our system, it’s important for you, ladies and gentlemen, to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did what we say he did. We respect people’s rights in this country. We do not want to send people to prison unless we know beyond a reasonable doubt that they broke the laws that protect us all. Believe me, we don’t like sending people to prison. We do not prosecute people unless we feel virtually certain that they broke the law. But we believe that Tom Biltmore is a danger to society. And we believe the evidence will show you—beyond a reasonable doubt—that he broke the law.

You are also going to hear from Mr. T.J. Boneweather, Tom’s boss at Fred’s Fireball Tire Shop in Camden. He is going to tell you about Tom’s obsession with hamsters. He is going to tell you that Tom decorated his workstation with hamster pinups and had a hamster screen saver on his computer. He is going to tell you that he often overheard Tom making phone calls to acquaintances about hamsters. And he is going to tell you that Tom owned both a camera and hamsters. Like Phil Parker, you’re going to hear that T.J. has nothing to gain, either. You’re going to hear that Tom never quarreled with his boss. In fact, you are going to hear that Tom was a good employee. The evidence will show that there was never any tension between T.J. and Tom. We are certain that you will trust T.J., too.

We are confident that the evidence will show you that Tom Biltmore knew he had hamster pictures. It will show you—beyond a reasonable doubt—that he knew he was transmitting them through the mails. And we will show you that he knew hamster pictures were “dangerous and injurious to life and health.” Finally, we will present evidence to show that Tom Biltmore agreed with his acquaintance in Columbus, Ohio—Fred Jackson—to send hamster pictures through the mails. That will prove that Tom conspired to send dangerous materials through the mail, endangering us all and breaking the law. When you hear all these stories and all this evidence, you will see that Tom Biltmore violated the statute in this case. And when the evidence shows—beyond a reasonable doubt—that a person violated a statute, you must find him guilty.

You might be thinking: So Tom sent some hamster pictures: What’s the big deal? We can understand your concern. From your perspective, ladies and gentlemen, sending hamster pictures through the mail doesn’t seem like a serious offense. But from the law’s perspective, it is a serious matter. The law does not like hamsters. Judge Hennessey will explain to you that our courts have repeatedly determined that hamsters are “dangerous and injurious to life and health” under the statute involved in this case. You, ladies and gentlemen, must faithfully respect the law when you decide the facts. It is not for you to decide whether the law is “inappropriate,” “silly” or “harsh.” It is not for you to make policy judgments about hamsters. That is Congress’ job; and Congress has already decided—in the People’s name—that hamsters are dangerous. You must merely decide whether Tom Biltmore knew he possessed hamster pictures, whether he knew the pictures depicted hamsters, whether he agreed with Fred Jackson to send them to Columbus and whether he knew he placed those pictures in a mailbox. If you find that Tom Biltmore knew these things and did these things, you must find him guilty.

I’m from Tennessee. We have a saying down there: A barn is not the same thing as a henhouse. I’m sure you know what I mean. I trust you, ladies and gentlemen, to make a fair and informed decision because you are fair, honest and decent people. The law entrusts you with a great responsibility in our system because the law respects the people. The law respects you because your common experience, memory, intuition and sense are the best way to ensure fair decisions in legal cases. Heck, even George Washington knew that juries made better decisions about everyday experience than some government official. In our system, we don’t need lawyers and judges to decide facts; we just need you. I myself applaud you, ladies and gentlemen, because I know you know that barns and henhouses aren’t the same thing. I know your experience, judgment and intelligence will lead you to view in the evidence in the only sensible way. And the evidence will show you that Tom Biltmore knowingly sent dangerous hamster pictures through the mails. The evidence is going to show you a lawbreaker.

Remember that this case is about more than just Tom Biltmore and hamsters. This case is about safety for all Americans. This case is about safe schools and safe children. Remember that when you weigh the testimony. And no matter what you hear from Tom’s lawyers, remember that you must merely decide a few simple facts. This is not about hamsters or pictures; and it is not about “fairness.” This is about law and safety. Don’t let Tom’s lawyers shake you from that. He either knowingly sent the hamster pictures or he didn’t. That is all you must decide.

You are about to perform a vital service, ladies and gentlemen. You are about to show once again why our legal system is the best in the world. By the time this trial is over, you will decide whether Tom Jones knew he sent hamster pictures through the mail. That is a monumental achievement. And the law will respect your decision. We are confident that you will answer “yes” to the question before you. Thank you.

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