NRA Watch Recaps the NRA on Trial in New York
The NRA is facing a lawsuit brought by the State of New York which centers on blockbuster allegations by New York Attorney General Letitia James that NRA leaders, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, improperly diverted millions of dollars from the non-profit to benefit NRA executives. See NRA Watch’s daily dispatches from the trial courtroom in Attorney General of The State of New York v. NRA.
January 8, 2024, The AG’s Opening Argument: In the morning, the parties finished jury selection and other pre-trial issues. In the afternoon, the trial began with Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Monica Connell giving the government’s opening argument.
January 9, 2024 , The NYAG Starts its Case & the NRA Preview its Defense: In the morning, the NRA’s attorney Sarah Rogers presented an opening argument to the jury that lasted approximately an hour. This was followed by opening arguments by the lawyers for the individual defendants: Wayne LaPierre, Woody Phillips, and John Frazer. The jury then heard from the first two witnesses called by the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”): former board member Rocky Marshall and former board member Esther Schneider.
January 10, 2024, Nonprofit Expert Takes the Stand: The morning began with former NRA board member Esther Schneider resuming her testimony, facing cross examination from the defendants. The New York Attorney General (“NYAG”) then called the third witness in its case: non-profit expert Jeffrey Tenenbaum. The final thirty minutes of the trial day consisted of initial testimony from NRA Director of Finance Michael Erstling.
January 11, 2024, Current NRA Employees Testify to the Depths of the Problem: The majority of the trial day was consumed by live testimony from NRA Director of Finance Michael Erstling. The day concluded with the jury being played audio deposition testimony from Rick Tedrick, the NRA’s current Managing Director of Finance.
January 12, 2024, Week Ends with Defendant Woody Phillips Taking the Stand: The morning began with additional audio testimony clips being played for the jury from Rick Tedrick, the NRA’s Managing Director of Finance. The trial day ended with testimony from former NRA CFO and defendant Woody Phillips.
January 16, 2024, The NRA’s Shady Web of Vendor Payments And Luxury Spending: The trial resumed after the long weekend with the continuation of testimony from defendant and former NRA CFO, Woody Phillips, who remained on the stand all day.
January 17, 2024, NRA CFO and Former CFO Testify on Key Financial Arrangements: The trial resumed with the continuation of testimony from defendant and former NRA CFO, Woody Phillips. Phillips testified previously on Friday, January 12 and Tuesday, January 16. The remainder of the day was spent on testimony from the NRA’s current CFO and Treasurer, Sonya Rowling.
January 18, 2024, Former NRA Chief Lobbyist Chris Cox Takes the Stand: The trial began today with the conclusion of fact testimony from current NRA CFO Sonya Rowling (notes on her testimony from yesterday can be found here). However, the real excitement was when the NYAG then called former NRA chief lobbyist and one-time LaPierre heir apparent Chris Cox.
January 19, 2024, Week Two of the NRA Trial is in the Books: The trial began today with the conclusion of testimony from former NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox (notes on his testimony from yesterday can be found here). Former board member Judge Philip Journey was the next witness called by the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”).
January 22, 2024, Testimony from NRA Board Presidents Past & Current: The trial began today with the continuation of playing video deposition testimony from former NRA Board President Carolyn Meadows. The jury then heard live testimony from current NRA President Charles Cotton.
January 23, 2024, Oliver North Speaks Out: The trial began today with the much anticipated testimony of former NRA board president Oliver North. The day ended with continued testimony from NRA President Charles Cotton.
January 24, 2024, Deeper Dive Into the NRA’s Relationship with Ackerman McQueen: The trial was delayed two hours this morning due to a juror absence. Around 11:30 AM, the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”) called longtime Ackerman McQueen employee William Winkler for testimony. After Mr. Winkler, the jury heard the conclusion of testimony from current NRA board president Charles Cotton. The NYAG has indicated that the next witness to testify will be CEO Wayne LaPierre.
January 26, 2024, “Wayne’s World” Was Expensive: The NYAG began the examination of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre on January 26th, with the examination lasting the entire morning session and then for approximately 40 minutes in the afternoon and then for approximately 40 minutes in the afternoon. Counsel for LaPierre indicated his client would be available to continue his testimony on Monday morning.
January 29, 2024, LaPierre in His Own Words – ‘I Wasn’t The Compliance Guy:’ The NYAG continued its examination of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre in the morning, with the NRA and other defendants then following with an examination of their own.
January 30, 2024, On His Second-To-Last Day As NRA CEO, LaPierre Again Took The Stand: The examination of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre concluded this morning. The jury was then introduced to Defendant John Frazer, current NRA General Counsel. Frazer’s testimony continued through the afternoon.
January 31, 2024, Four Additional Witnesses Testify as the NYAG Winds Down Its Case: The examination of Defendant John Frazer, current NRA General Counsel, concluded this morning. After the conclusion of Frazer’s testimony, NYAG called long-time NRA employee Lisa Supernaugh, followed by Second Vice President and Audit Committee Vice-Chair David Coy. Former NRA First Vice President Willes Lee was then called by the NYAG.
February 1, 2024, NYAG’s Last Witness Sums it Up – “Consistent Control Violations” at the NRA: The morning began with the conclusion of brief testimony from board member and former NRA First Vice President Willes Lee. Following Lee’s testimony, the jury heard previously recorded testimony from longtime aide to Wayne LaPierre, Millie Hallow, as well as travel agent Gayle Stanford. After the video testimony, the New York Attorney General’s Office (NYAG) called its final witness, financial expert Eric Hines.
February 5, 2024, The NYAG Rests its Case: The New York Attorney General’s Office (NYAG)’s final witness, financial expert Eric Hines, finished his testimony, and the NYAG concluded its case-in-chief. In the afternoon, the defendants asked the court for a directed verdict on several claims. The judge heard oral argument from the parties, but deferred ruling on these motions. Thereafter, the NRA called its first witnesses, former Congressman and current NRA First Vice President Bob Barr and expert witness, economist Ryan Sullivan.
February 6, 2024, “Did Wayne LaPierre Make Mistakes? Yes, He Did.” On Tuesday, February 6th, NRA expert witness, economist Ryan Sullivan, concluded his testimony. The NRA then called longtime-NRA board member Tom King, and current NRA CFO Sonya Rowling.
February 7, 2024, NRA Trial Day 20: NRA CFO Compares the NRA to the Titanic: On Wednesday, February 7th, NRA CFO Sonya Rowling concluded her testimony. Rowling was followed by NRA expert witnesses Matthew Lerner, Stacey Cullen, and Greg Plotts.
February 8, 2024, NRA Trial Day 21: The NRA’s Parade of Experts Continues: On Thursday, February 8th, the NRA called two additional experts (adding to the multiple experts that have already testified). First, the jury heard testimony from Amish Mehta, an accountant and auditor. Mehta was followed by accountant and consultant Bruce Blacker. After the conclusion of Blacker’s testimony, the NRA called NRA Director of Finance Michael Erstling back to the stand. Erstling’s testimony was followed by testimony from NRA board member and former president, Sandra Froman.
February 13, 2024, NRA Trial Day 22, The Individual Defendants Return to the Stand: Wayne LaPierre’s attorney called LaPierre to the stand for direct examination during the morning session. The jury heard his testimony until the 12:30pm lunch break. In the afternoon, defendant John Frazer took the stand.
February 14, 2024, NRA Trial Day 23: “I couldn’t believe it, but when you add it all up, it’s over $1 million.” Today, Wayne LaPierre concluded his testimony and was followed by continued testimony from NRA General Counsel John Frazer. After Frazer, the defense called NRA-ILA Chief of Operations John Commerford, NRA Managing Director of Security Chris Lapham, and accountant Mark Ramblin. The defense also played video testimony from former CFO Craig Spray and former NRA President Carolyn Meadows.
February 15, 2024, NRA Trial Day 24: Closing Arguments WITH TRANSCRIPT. Today, parties presented their closing statements. NRA General Counsel John Frazer’s attorney kicked off the morning, followed by attorneys representing former NRA CFO Woody Phillips, former Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, the NRA itself, and, finally, the New York Attorney General.