In Brooklyn, drug dealer Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff is on trial for racketeering and his involvement in two murders. Closing arguments were made, but Federal Judge Frederic Block made his own memorable comments about the prosecution's desire to seek the death penalty:
“Will you kindly advise Washington that in this judge’s opinion, there is no chance in the world there would be a death penalty verdict in this case? If I’m wrong, I will have egg on my face, but I will not be incorrect...
If I feel, as an officer, as a judge, that this is an absurd prosecution based upon what I have heard, I think I have a responsibility to let authorities know.
Judge Block basically said he didn't feel the jury would vote for the death pernalty, given how McGriff's lawyers had "humanized" him and said taxpayer money would waste government resources. Naturally, defense attorneys for McGriff hoped the prosecution got Block's message.
Interestingly, when the prosecutors worried the judge's statements might get out into the media and influence the jury, Block said, "I told them not to read the paper. And the truth of the matter is, because of the [cop killer Ronell] Wilson trial on the fourth floor, nobody from the press has been here today and we're flying under the radar screen for sure." Well, until now.
The prosecution had earlier accused McGriff of laundering money through Murder Inc. Records, but dropped those charges. And the Daily News has a list of Block's "bizarre bench-remarks": At the retrial of Lemrick Nelson for allegedly killing a Hasidic man, Block asked a black witness to define the slang term "'chillin' for somebody who is not a brother."