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PG&E wants judge to tell jury 'there is no evidence' behind claims of violations

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PG&E wants judge to tell jury 'there is no evidence' behind claims of violations

With the witness testimony portion of the criminaltrial completed, the company on July 25 asked that jurors be told to disregarda chunk of the prosecution's evidence and argument.

"There is no evidence that any one of defendant'semployees knowinglyand willfully violated a clearpipeline safety regulation," the proposed jury instructionsread. "Rather, the evidence is that each applied his or her ownengineering judgment in a good faith effort to comply with the regulations andkeep our pipelines safe."

"There is also no evidence that any one of defendant'semployees intended to corruptly influence the [National Transportation Safety Board]'sinvestigation," the proposed jury instruction continued.

In the wake of PG&E's deadly , federal prosecutors charged the company with 12 felonycounts of violating the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act and one count ofobstructing the NTSB's investigation into the incident.

The prosecution opposed the subsidiary's request,arguing that the jury instructions should explain only what elements of thecase the U.S. has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Notably, the proposed instruct does not even begin '[T]hedefendant's theory of the case is …,'" the prosecution said in its July 25objection. "Directly contrary to the proposed instruction, over the lastsix weeks of trial, the jury has heard a plethora of evidence that PG&E,through its employees, knowinglyand willfully violated the charged pipeline safety act regulationsand that PG&E, through its employees, intended to corruptly influence theNTSB's investigation."

Judge Thelton Henderson on July 25 said he would reviewPG&E's proposed jury instructions.

As an attorney with many years of energy law experiencenoted before the trial began, the jury's grasp of nuance and key concepts will be critical indetermining the trial's outcome. Appropriate jury instructions are the"roadmap to success," Bracewell LLP's Kevin Collins said in a Mayinterview.

Testimony in the trial ended July 22 after the defensecalled three witnesses that day, The Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., reportedJuly 23.