Espy: Not Guilty on All Counts

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What happens when you throw a kitchen sink indictment at a high-profile defendant represented by some of the nation's best lawyerly talent? The prosecution can go down the drain -- spectacularly. That's exactly what occurred Wednesday as Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz lost his corruption case against Former Clinton Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. After deliberating for nine hours over two days, a jury acquitted Espy on all 30 counts.

"Smaltz threw the book at Espy," says TIME Washington Correspondent Vivica Novak. "He should have focused his case instead." The trial went on for two months and involved a parade of 70 witnesses. Espy's acquittal is likely to have further political ramifications: Smaltz's four-year inquiry ran up a $17 million bill. Tack that on to the $40 million spent by Kenneth Starr to pursue Bill Clinton and the "Smaltz investigation is likely to become one more factor that will lead to the demise of the Independent Counsel statute when it expires next year," says Novak.