Pete Rose gets his day in court.

The stadium scene.
July 18 2003 7:03 PM

The People v. Charlie Hustle

Pete Rose gets his day in court.

(Continued from Page 1)

BJ: "It has been reported."

AD: "When has it been reported?"

BJ: "On 20/20."

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[An attempt to verify this with the producers of 20/20 is as yet unsuccessful.]

Dershowitz then went ballistic.

AD: "You made it up!"

BJ: "No, sir."

AD: "Did you make a serious mistake?"

BJ: "I'm certain I've made many serious mistakes. I do not believe that this one of them."

AD: "You still maintain that she flunked that test."

BJ: "It has been reported."

AD: "And that's how you get your facts, 'It has been reported'?"

James had no comment. From there, Dershowitz tried a knockdown pitch, which turned into a passed ball:

AD: "You said that baseball was out to get Pete Rose?"

BJ: "Where?"

AD: "In your writing, sir."

BJ: "No, sir."

AD: "I'll tell you where you said it."

BJ: "I did not ..."

AD: "I'll read you what you said. 'John Dowd's job was to investigate Rose's life to see if he could catch him doing something wrong and that Rose was going to be suspended for something.' Now why would baseball be out to get its most valuable asset?"

BJ: "Rose was going to be suspended at that time because he was engaged in a variety of serious misconducts."

AD: "Like what?"

Judge: "Final question."

AD: "I'm happy to rest with 'misconduct.' "

At which point Cochran, approaching the bench for his redirect, responded, "That was misconduct, not gambling," referring to Rose's problems with the IRS.

The vehemence of Dershowitz's attack seemed to shake up the courtroom and completely change the mood of the show. At the break, a surprised Bob Ley commented, "Perhaps we just had a Perry Mason moment in this trial?" Jeffrey Toobin added that Dershowitz "Had Bill James speechless. ... He laid a trap for him and Bill James walked right in."

What didn't seem to occur to them is that Dershowitz had laid his own trap, and James, by refusing to take the bait, let him walk into it. The issue of Paul Janszen's lack of credibility as a witness against Rose was left out in the open for all to see.

In his redirect, Cochran restated a point that James has hammered home on many occasions, namely that Commissioner Giamatti wrote a letter to a federal judge requesting leniency for the four witnesses who had federal cases pending against them, stating that he "found them forthright, truthful and candid." The letter was written in April 1989, beforethe Dowd Report came out, indicating that the commish had reached his own conclusion about Pete Rose's guilt or innocence before the report he ordered was completed.

Finally, Cochran hit a walk-off home run when he summed up the argument for Rose and the Hall of Fame in three words: "Enough is enough"; several of the jurors and countless thousands of e-mailers echoed the phrase. Or perhaps walk-off home run is not the right phrase, since Dershowitz had the last word but failed to score.

Let's call Cochran the closer in the Pete Rose issue, the Mariano Rivera of lawyers. Bill James was his setup man.

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