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Flight to Nowhere

So . . . the Government puts on this witness, see? And this witness, she works for Air France, right? So the Government puts her on the witness stand in a federal jury trial, and asks her about airfares. They want to know what the lowest fare from Houston to Port Harcourt was in April 2007. So they’ve got this printout from the Air France computer showing the various fares available from Houston to Port Harcourt between April 1, 2007 and June 15, 2007. With me so far?

So the Government has this nice lady on the stand — lots of years’ experience with Air France — and gets her to talk about the various fares on this printout — first class fares from Houston to Port Harcourt, economy class fares from Houston to Port Harcourt, fares with an advance purchase from Houston to Port Harcourt, fares without an advance purchase from Houston to Port Harcourt, fares with stays of various durations from Houston to Port Harcourt, all between April 1 and June 15, 2007. And the lowest fare for that trip — Houston to Port Harcourt — during that time period — April 1 through June 15, 2007 — was $1,536. Good enough. The point, I figure, is that the accused didn’t choose the easiest, least expensive route from Houston to his hometown of Port Harcourt, or some such.

Anyway, the defense lawyer gets up to cross-examine. We don’t know whether this fare was available when the accused bought his ticket, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then — and I really don’t know how this comes out — the nice lady mentions that the Port Harcourt airport was closed because of civil unrest.

Okay, the defense lawyer asks. How long has the Port Harcourt airport been closed? Since sometime in 2006.

Port Harcourt Airport. Closed. Since 2006.

For those of you who might be employed as federal prosecutors, and therefore having some trouble keeping up: Even if the accused had wanted to take this flight, he couldn’t have.




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