Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Weak Case Made by CIRM Opponents

It has been a sow's ear of a stem cell trial.

For a couple of reasons. One is that it lacked drama. Two, the presentation of CIRM's opponents. They have taken their best shot, and it is way off the mark.

We may be wrong, but it appears that their best arguments were made months ago -- before the trial -- and rejected already by the judge.

Today's proceedings did not advance their case significantly and was dominated by CIRM's presentation, which appeared far more professional than the plaintiffs. Although CIRM's counsel had a couple of procedural fumbles with exhibits, it was nothing like the ones that plagued the opposing counsel.

CIRM's foes had an enormous burden. They had to prove that CIRM basically was not a state agency or controlled by the state. Today, Tamar Pachter, deputy attorney general, made point after point that a host of state agencies, ranging from the Department of Finance to the Legislature, can or have messed about in CIRM affairs.

Stem cell Chairman Bob Klein painted a nearly glowing picture of cooperation with the legislature and various state departments. The rocky side of that relationship was hardly touched on by the anti-CIRM people.

Mercifully, the entire affair will be put out of its misery in a couple of days. The state will call one more witness tomorrow, CIRM President Zach Hall. There will be some more haggling over additional evidence, which may require another witness from the plaintiffs to discuss the meaning of IP policy.

The judge indicated that everything could be wrapped up by Thursday. She is proposing written final arguments and only very brief oral closing arguments, if that.

But both sides have made it clear that the case will be appealed. The ultimate resolution looks like sometime next year, as predicted earlier.

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