A lawyer for Maryland state Sen. Ulysses Currie said Tuesday that the Prince George’s Democrat does not plan to testify in his own defense in a federal corruption trial that is expected to go to the jury next week.
Attorneys for Currie had held out the possibility that he might testify, but it is rare for defendants in criminal cases to take the stand, and Currie and his defense team indicated that he will not.
The announcement in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by defense attorney Joseph L. Evans came during a full day of testimony in the trial, now in its fifth week. The 74-year-old senator is accused of taking bribes in exchange for a series of government favors for Shoppers Food Warehouse.
On Tuesday, jurors heard from a urologist who treated Currie for prostate cancer and from a string of defense witnesses who attested to the honesty of Currie and the two grocery chain executives who are also on trial.
Michael J. Naslund testified that Currie was being treated for “the highest grade of prostate cancer there is” in 2008, when the FBI raided his home and its investigation became public.
Naslund said that in February 2008 Currie received the first in a series of injections of Lupron, a drug that dramatically reduces testosterone production, and that its side effects include forgetfulness and loss of reasoning ability.
Currie has also been charged with making false statements to the FBI during an interview at the time of the early-morning raid of his home.
Naslund offered no testimony about that morning but was asked about a report prepared by another doctor in April that said Currie believed his “mental acuity does seem to have decreased some.” Naslund testified that about 25 to 30 percent of his patients on Lupron experience some cognitive effects.
Naslund said that Currie seemed “fuzzy” during some visits, including at least one that predated his first Lupron injection. The drug is time-released over four months.
On cross-examination, Naslund said that Currie was capable of making medical decisions for himself.
Others called to testify by Currie’s defense team on Tuesday included Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the latest in a string of fellow politicians to serve as character witnesses.
“He’s an honest guy, and he’s a straight shooter,” Cummings said.
Victoria Gruber, a former senior counsel to the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, offered testimony about Currie’s leadership of that panel, which he headed until shortly after he was indicted last year.
Gruber, now chief of staff to the Senate president, also provided what amounted to a mini-tutorial for jurors on how the state budget is reviewed, calling it a “very staff-intensive process.”