Judge: Government can’t depose Armstrong about Aspen accident
October 31, 2015
A federal judge ruled Friday that U.S. attorneys can no longer question Lance Armstrong about his Aspen fender-bender from December.
U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper's order came after federal prosecutors, in a deposition last month in San Francisco, quizzed the disgraced cyclist about the Aspen incident. The deposition, part of the government's $100 million fraud case against the part-time Aspen resident, was cut short by Armstrong's lawyers because of the line of questioning by U.S. attorneys.
Armstrong's legal team contended in a motion filed Wednesday that the Aspen accident was not germane to the fraud case during the discovery phase. The judge agreed.
"The Court will not reopen Armstrong's deposition to allow him to be questioned regarding a December 2014 traffic accident in Aspen, Colorado, an issue that is not directly relevant to any of the claims and defenses in this case," Cooper's order stated.
Cooper's decision was the second time the court has determined the details of the accident were not pertinent to the government's case against Armstrong. Previously, U.S. attorneys tried to subpoena Armstrong's girlfriend, Anna Hansen, to depose her about the accident.
On Dec. 27, Hansen admitted to Aspen police that Armstrong had been driving a car that struck two vehicles parked in front of a West Francis Avenue home. She originally had told authorities she was behind the wheel in order to spare Armstrong the bad publicity, but recanted her story when police became skeptical of her account. Armstrong pleaded guilty to careless driving and paid a $150 traffic fine and $238.50 in court fees in February.
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In an effort to impeach Armstrong's character, the U.S. government contends the accident illustrates that the former seven-time Tour de France winner, who for years denied doping, remains deceitful.
Cooper noted in his ruling that the while the government can't depose Armstrong about the accident, it might be fair game at trial.
"The court will reserve ruling on the admissability of any evidence related to the Aspen incident that the government seeks to introduce or elicit at trial," Cooper's order said.