Proceedings in United States of America v. Douglas Gene Williams began this morning in Room 301 of the Federal District Court building in Oklahoma City. Williams is charged with two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering in connection with his training two undercover agents how to pass polygraph tests.
Trial attorneys for the United States Government Brian K. Kidd and Heidi Boutros Gesch met with Williams’ attorneys, Stephen H. Buzin and Chase A. O’Brien in pre-trial conference from about 9:20 to 10:40 AM.
Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange entered the courtroom at 10:55 and shortly thereafter swore in the prospective jurors. Voir dire, or the questioning of potential jurors, began at 11:07. No prospective jurors knew the prosecutors, the defendant, or any of the witnesses who are to testify. Potential jurors were asked whether they had served on juries before, and if so, if they ever served as a foreman, and if they had ever been ever been called as witnesses. In response to additional questions,
a couple several prospective jurors acknowledged having been polygraphed before, but none expressed any concerns about the use of polygraph examinations or undercover or sting operations.
At 11:53, the court adjourned for lunch until 1:15, when voir dire resumed. Potential jurors were asked about their occupations, their families, their hobbies, and whether they had any bumper stickers. Then, after a sidebar, some 18 prospective jurors were excused, and at 2:18 the jury, composed of 7 men and 5 women, was sworn in. There are also two alternate jurors, a man and a woman.
At 14:35, trial attorney Brian Kidd delivered the prosecution’s opening statement. His remarks were briefly interrupted as witness sequestration was invoked, meaning that anyone who might testify later in the trial could not be present in the courtroom. Kidd’s opening statement summarized the charges in the indictment and among other things, made clear the identities of undercover agents 1 and 2. UC1 is Javier Domingo “J.D.” Castillo and UC2 is Brian Luley, both of whom are on the prosecution’s witness list.
At 14:50, Stephen Buzin delivered the defense’s opening statement, mentioning Doug Williams’ work to protect peoples’ rights. There will be testimony on how Williams became an opponent of polygraphy, and mentioned that he had worked in the White House. Buzin also referenced Williams’ involvement in the passage of the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Buzin said the government didn’t like Williams’ business and decided to make him a scapegoat, noting that he has been doing what he does for 35 years. Williams will take the witness stand. Buzin said the government wasn’t happy with Williams because he had shown that the polygraph was a fraud, and that taking a practice polygraph test is not illegal and that Williams did not defraud the government. Buzin contended that the evidence does not support the allegations. Buzin stated that they made him a target; they wanted Doug Williams. “They wanted to make Mr. Williams at any cost, a scapegoat.”
After opening statements, a decision was announced that all uncontested government exhibits would be entered into evidence. These were government exhibits 1-300 and 302-304.
At 15:02 the prosecution called CBP Special Agent Jeffrey Michael Bartlett as its first witness. He testified about an “exploratory call” he made to Doug Williams on 25 September 2012 “to determine if he would teach people to pass [the polygraph] who he knew were lying.” Bartlett made just this one phone call and had no other involvement in Operation Lie Busters, the criminal investigation that targeted Williams. The audio of the phone conversation was played in the courtroom. On cross-examination, Bartlett acknowledged that he had no knowledge that Williams had committed any criminal offense before calling, stating that the “exploratory call” was based on information on Williams’ website, Polygraph.com. Asked by Williams’ attorney Buzin, “Is it normal procedure to make exploratory calls to people who have committed no criminal offense?” Bartlett answered “No.” Bartlett never heard of Operation Lie Busters and did not himself have to take a polygraph to be hired.
At 15:32, the prosecution called CBP Special Agent Doug Robbins as a witness. Robbins testified that in June 2012 he was assigned to determine whether Doug Williams was teaching people “how to lie on polygraphs” after he knew they were going to lie, stating that a complaint had been made to the Joint Intake Center based on an examinee who failed a polygraph.
The text of Polygraph.com as it appeared on 5 March 2013 was displayed on a projector screen, and prosecutor Heidi Gesch asked Robbins to read portions of it.
In a seeming concession that polygraph countermeasures work, Robbins stated that Williams’ training poses a problem for CBP’s polygraph requirement. Robbins made the decision for an “exploratory” or “predicate” phone call to be made.
Government exhibit 100, a recording of a phone call placed by SA J.D. Castillo to Doug Williams on 15 October 2012 was played in its entirety. Castillo called to arrange polygraph training, and Williams had the impression that he was facing a polygraph screening test. Audio of a second call Castillo placed to Williams later the same day was also played, in which Castillo clarified that the polygraph examination was not for employee screening, but associated with an accusation of wrongdoing. Castillo was emphatic that he could not travel to Oklahoma for this training, and that Williams must come to Alexandria, Virginia to provide the training. Although not addressed in court, it seems clear that this was an attempt to establish grounds for possible prosecution of Williams in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Chad Dixon, who was also targeted in Operation Lie Busters, was prosecuted.
At 4:48 PM, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange adjourned proceedings until 9:00 the following morning.