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Environmental Law

: Environmental Crimes Blog

US v. John Emerson Tuma - Day Four - Afternoon Session

By Walter James


The afternoon started off with Cody Tuma's lawyer, Elton Ritchey, making an objection to Jim Boren cross examining Cody Tuma. The John Tuma and Cody Tuma apparently had a joint defense agreement and Mr. Richey believed that Mr. Boren obtained confidential information from Cody Tuma in that arrangement and would now be obligated by his representation of John Tuma to zealously cross examine Cody Tuma with confidential information. After hearing argument, the Judge denied the objection.

Mr. Boren began cross examination by reviewing Cody Tuma's motivations for testifying - these included Cody Tuma's "religious experience", his desire to be a better man and to take responsibility for his bad acts. Cody Tuma confirmed those motivations. Mr. Boren then had Cody Tuma admit that he had dumped untreated water to the Red River and the the City POTW with Wayne Mallet and Todd Cage. Mr. Boren then wanted Cody Tuma to admit that the conspiracy was Cody Tuma, Wayne Mallet and Todd Cage. Cody Tuma corrected him and said that the conspiracy was with his father, John Tuma.

Mr. Boren then had Cody Tuma admit that he was guilty of everything as charged in the indictment but did not plead guilty to those charges but only pled to a misdemeanor. Mr. Boren then asked Cody Tuma if he had contacted the Harris County District Attorney to tell the DA that he had committed a crime in Texas. Cody Tuma admitted that he had not contacted the DA.

Mr. Boren then expored what Cody Tuma knew about the various witness statements against him and that he knew Wayne Mallet and Todd Cage would testify against him. He was asked if that had motivated him to seek a plea deal. Mr. Boren then went through some text messages sent from Cody Tuma to his father, probing whether the responses to the texts made him angry at his father as motivation to testify against his father.

Mr. Boren probed Cody Tuma's testimony regarding his breakfast meeting with his father when Cody Tuma asked his father to do the right thing. Cody Tuma reaffirmed that he told John Tuma that he (Cody) wanted his father to protect him and that he did not wnat to lie any more. Cody Tuma again testified that John Tuma's response was "We are in too deep" and that John Tuma agreed to " bite the bullet" for Cody Tuma. John Tuma told Cody Tuma that the government has offered a deal to him that if he pled guilty, the government would drop charges against Cody Tuma.

Mr. Boren probed Cody Tuma's domestic problems related to the custody of his son from his first marriage and whether he had asked his father for money for an attorney. Mr. Boren asked that because his father turned down Cody Tuma's request, Cody Tuma was testifying against his father. Cody Tuma denied these motivations.

Mr. Boren then turned to Cody Tuma's plea agreement transcript where Cody Tuma apologized to the court and pledged his best to assist the government. Cody Tuma acknowledged he was apologizing for lying. Mr. Boren asked if Cody Tuma had apologized to the people of Texas for lying to which Cody Tuma said no, he had not.

Mr. Boren's cross then turned to the plant operations and he went through various processes with Cody Tuma. Cody Tuma seemed knowledgeable and answered all of Mr. Boren's questions. The cross then turned to cover some of the testimony discrepancies in his deposition. Cody Tuma testified that most of his deposition testimony was rehearsed with John Tuma, but that he came up with some of the lies on his own. Cody Tuma the stated that his ability to lie has changed since is religious experience.

Mr. Boren also covered some ground regarding the CCS acquisition of the plant. Cody Tuma testified that his father told him to state in the deposition that CCS crawled overe every nook and cranny in inspecting the plant pre-acquisition.

Mr. Boren asked about Cody Tuma's drug and alcohol use. Cody Tuma acknowledged that he now knows he had a problem. He also testified that his father knew about the drug use.

Mr. Boren then quizzed Cody Tuma on the ways he was able to defeat the monitoring devices. He elicited testimony on how it was done and when. Cody Tuma testified that John Tuma and Wayne Mallet showed him how to bypass various flow meters and sampling devices. Cody Tuma also testified that he, John Tuma and Wayne Mallet would walk the plant trying to figure ways to bypass measuring devices. Cody Tuma acknowledged that his father bought some of the flow meters and other devices. One question seemed to tip the entire defense theory: "You disabled security measures your father installed." In response, Cody Tuma responded that "we walked around and my father figured it out." Cody Tuma also acknowledged that he came up with some bypass methods on his own.

The cross examination concluded by Mr. Boren covering Cody Tuma's acting angry for Ken AuBuchon that the port tanks were contaminated, charging Cody Tuma with being a pretty good actor.

The redirect was uneventful and recovered most of the testimony received on direct and cross. Subject to an issue related to the text messages used by Mr. Boren on cross, the government will rest.

John Tuma is expected to take the stand tomorrow morning.

More later.

As always, please feel free to contact me at


Full post as published by Environmental Crimes Blog on March 15, 2012 (boomark / email).

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