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Ch.4 Should Have Benched Connors as Analyst

Diana Fairbanks: Pressed Clark for Answers


I’ve been gone almost a month and expected that Channel 4 would come to its senses in the interim and stop using Terry Connors as its legal expert to analyze the trial of Dr. James G. Corasanti.

But there was Connors outside Erie County Court Tuesday delivering his cautious take on the final arguments offered by the prosecution and defense after Channel 4’s Jacquie Walker reminded its audience that Connors is the attorney for the family of the late Alix Rice in a civil suit against the prominent doctor.

It’s a blatant conflict of interest for Connors and Channel 4 is wrong if it thinks acknowledging his association with the civil trial is enough to use him.

I would have liked to have seen a story somewhere that explained the impact of a guilty or a non-guilty verdict on the later civil trial.

I asked a prominent defense lawyer – let’s call him a PDL for now on — Tuesday what verdict Connors should be rooting for to help the civil case. The PDL said that if he were Connors he would root for a guilty verdict since it would solidify the civil case, which doesn’t have the same difficult burden of proof as a criminal trial.

The PDL attorney added that while a not guilty verdict would enable Dr. Corasanti to make a good living again, it wouldn’t necessary mean that there would be more money to get from him civilly since in all likelihood the doctor’s insurance would cover any civil award.

“A guilty verdict puts him out of business,” explained the PDL. “I don’t know how much insurance he has. But I assume his insurance is all they can get anyway.”

The PDL added the fact that the teenager died instantly probably would reduce the civil award since the amount of time there was pain and suffering wouldn’t have been extended.

Of course, this is just speculation. But it is clear that Connors has a vested interest in the results of the trial and he shouldn’t have been analyzing it for any TV station.

It wasn’t like there aren’t other prominent lawyers available. Channel 2 used several prominent lawyers to analyze the case, including former Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark, Paul Cambria and Dennis Vacco.

To its credit, Channel 4 didn’t solely rely on Connors Tuesday. It also used Clark, who had double duty on Channel 2 and Channel 4.

Clark was much more interesting and opinionated than Connors, who perhaps tried to avoid being opinionated because of his conflict of interest. Clark did admit he was mildly surprised that Cheryl Meyers-Buth delivered the defense closing argument rather than lead attorney Joel Daniels. Pressed by Channel 4 anchor Diana Fairbanks why he thought Meyers-Buth made the summation, Clark speculated that sometimes people feel jurors would rather hear from a female lawyer in this situation.

Of course, all the lawyers were asked the unanswerable question of how long deliberations would take and what verdict would likely result if they took a while. It is guess work and nobody wanted to go out on a limb Tuesday. (Clark did predict on Channel 4 at noon today that there would be a conviction on a few counts.) It is unclear how much of the trial the so-called legal experts watched and if they watched enough to make an educated guess.

TV news viewers certainly wouldn’t find it easy to know what to expect since only the opening statement and closing arguments were allowed to be televised. The best and most thorough trial coverage was by Patrick Lakamp of the Buffalo News.

Ideally, it would have been beneficial if TV viewers could have seen Corasanti’s testimony, which may be key to the verdict. I’m going out on a limb guessing that Judge Sheila A. DiTullio would have allowed the Corasanti testimony to be carried if she was able to legally. Hopefully, that’s one of the answers we’ll get after a verdict is reached.


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6 responses to "Ch.4 Should Have Benched Connors as Analyst"

  1. Rob says:

    If Channel 4 couldn’t afford to pay their anchors/reporters than I’m sure they couldn’t provide cash for any attorney’s time, Connors probably came cheap because of the conflict of interest.

  2. gary says:

    It’s great to hear that your feeling better and back at it with “Still Talkin”. Is it just me, or is Diana Fairbanks a look alike to “Flo” from the Progressive insurance comercials. Even some of Diana’s mannerisms remind me of Flo.

  3. Bob says:

    Great to have you back. It looks like the verdict won’t let you ease your way back into this….

  4. jlessord says:

    “I would have liked to have seen a story somewhere that explained the impact of a guilty or a non-guilty verdict on the later civil trial.”

    But they did, on Thursday evening at 5: http://www.wgrz.com/news/article/169965/37/Criminal-Trial-Concluded-Civil-Case-Against-Corasanti-Looms

    BTW: Your lawyer friend should have told you Corasanti’s insurance won’t cover punitive damages, which would likely comprise the larger amount of any damages that might be awarded

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