Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trial Notes, 6-04-07

I get to the Orange Line Sepulveda Station at 7:59 am, hoping I will make the next earliest trian. Trying to keep my bag a bit lighter, I don't bring a book today. I'm also only going to spend half a day at court, so no lunch container either. The bus is half full. As soon as I get on I notice that this driver is not nearly as smooth as some of the others and I can barely write as the bus jerks along. I'm flabergasted by how he's speeding up and breaking hard. Looking through my bag I realize that I've left some questions I was going to try to ask Dr. Sptiz at home. I was hoping to ask him at the morning break some questions on the JonBenet Ramsey case, because he got a look at the complete autopsy report.

A man on the bus notices me writng and tries to talk to me. But he's speaking in another language. I think it's spanish, but I can't understand a word. The only spanish I know is how to count to ten and say "How are you?" I smile and say, "English only."

I miss the 8:20 am train by about 30 seconds. My phone says 8:19 am, and I'm wondering if the train left earlier than usual.

I've been talking about the trial to one of my bodywork clients. I'll call her Mary. (Not her real name.) Mary, an entertainment attorney, has a cousin who is a senior superior court judge out in a neighboring county. I've been trying to convince her to clear a day and come down to the court with me and watch some trial. She's considering it. A bit of trivia here. My client was actually on the state's rebuttal witness list for the Michael Jackson trial. Seriously. Once her name appeared on the witness list, the defense did not call Diana Ross to testify.

My train car is virtually empty. I was hoping there would be some interesting people to observe. Maybe it will fill up at the Universal Station. Just like most days, someone gets on the train with a bicycle and today I'm not disappointed. There's a strange character this time. He appears to be a middle aged man with a shaved head but a long ponytail, a safety helmet on top of that, and an overly stuffed backpack who gets on the train with his bike. Usually what I see are very young kids with a "MX" type bike. I'm so tired, I almost nod off to sleep on the train for a moment. I didn't get much sleep last night. I stayed up late to work on my trial notes and get a load of laundry done for my husband.

Waiting in the hallway, I ask Dominick and Ciaran (it's pronounced Keer'-an) if they thought Dr. Henry Lee's directed letter to the press would be considered a violation of the Judge's order to counsel, to have their witnesses stop talking to the media. Ciaran thinks I have a point. Dominick says he heard the Judge was really upset about something this morning. Maybe it's about Dr. Lee's statement to the press. But when we get into the courtroom, the first issue up is the document on Lana's computer that the defense has been calling a "diary" and the prosecution has been calling a "story." It appears this is the item the Judge was not happy about.

Spector and the entourage enter the courtroom. Spector is wearing a black pinstripe suit with a red shirt. Dominick asks me, "Do you think he's heavily medicated? I reply, "I believe he's medicated." At 9:15 am Dominick, Ciaran and I get into the courtroom. There are a bunch of new people in the courtroom, and most of them appear to be interns for the District Attorney's office. They are all very young guys who look like they are barely out of high school. They all have these badges with the DA's business card in them pinned to their lapels or shirt pockets.

The black female baliff yells out: "No cell phones! No gum chewing!" I see Rosen and Dixon come out of the Judge's chambers. Dominick and I talk about the trial length. I tell Dominick I think it's going to go until September. "September!!!! I have a life!" Dominick responds. Dominick said that someone in San Francisco wanted him to do a blog. "What do you think about that?" he asks me. I tell him, "Yes!" Blog are really big.

It's 9:33 am. The clerk asks, "Counselors, ready for the Judge?" And Judge Fidler takes the bench. The jury is not present. The Judge is going over the admissability of the emails on Ms. Clarkson's computer, and the "diary" or "story" depending on whos' version you believe.

Judge: (To Mr. Plourd) I couldn't find what you were alluding to in the document. It's not a diary. It's a story, prepared afterwards. The last entry, is just about making a movie, Barbarian Queen II. How is that current?

Plourd: She was working on it just as late as 2001.

Judge: (With a bit of irritation in his voice) The last event she wrote about was in 1989. Where is there anything as to current s to death?

Plourd: She was working on the document in 2001.

Judge: What in the narative, what event takes place after 1989? That's fourteen years before her death. You said that, I would find a familarity with weapons.

Plourd: She was a teenager. Something with her father.

The Judge is challenging the defense on their conclusion of the "story." Plourd goes into a section where Lana talks about her apartment being the location of a suicide. The Judge reads over that section again. Dominick Dunne says, "This is pathetic." I agree. Plourd's explaination is lame.

Judge: Nothing in this document is relevant. I find nothing of this document is...

Plourd: It documents he drug abuse.

Judge: Totally remote! You can't bring it in via cross of Dr. Pena!

Hooray! The defense can't bring this in using this witness. The jury is called to enter the courtroom. Dr. Pena is back on the stand for cross, and it's more meaningless cross. Plourd is going to present all these emails to Dr. Pena. Dr. Pena reads an email to himself, and the jury waits, watching the attorneys.

Juror #11 crosses him arms. Alternate #3 is leaning back. Juror #12 rubs his face. Juror #5 takes a note. Juror #4 might be writing too; I can't see his hands. Juror #6 looks and reaches down to his valise. Alternate #4 picks at his nails. Alternate #6 takes a note. Juror #9 rubs his neck. Juror #5 takes more notes. Juror #4 rubs his nose. Rochelle looks back at the gallery.

Earlier, before court Dominick tells me about how Donna Clarkson was very upset about an article he wrote four years ago. Supposedly, the tall black haired attorney put his fist through a wall because of the article.

Juror #6 scratches his head vigorously. Juror #11 still has his arms crossed. Juror #6 is leaning back but appears bored. Juror #11 now takes a note.

Another email is presented about Lana's frustration, despondency about her financial situation that Dr. Pena hadn't seen. Plourd reads from the email. "I'm on the verge of losing it all, hanging by a thread." Plourd also mentions that she was 30-40-50 thousand dollars in debt.

Juror #11 has crossed his arms again. Juror #12 also has their arms crossed. Juror #9 is leaning forward on his elbows, hand on his chin.

Another email. Dr. Pena reads them to himself; the jury wait. Then Plourd crosses Dr. Pena on the email. 10:05 am, Rosen gives a post it note to Plourd. Rosen reads an email. This one is about playing the Marilyn Monroe role, and "chucking it" in the email.

Q: After reading that, does this change your opinion about MOD?

A: Absolutely not.

Another letter is read. This one from Ms. Clarkson to her doctor. It's from the neurologist's files. "Plagued by pain and migraine headaches every day. (snip) Wondering if my TMJ is related and I'm wearing a guard. (snip) I am at the end of my rope."

Another document off the computer is read. Rosen reads portions of this letter out loud. It's a letter addressed to someone named Heather. And, another note is passed to Plourd.

Alternate #5 leans in to try to hear better. I'm not seeing many of the jurors taking a note.

Q: She went to somebody to get her subconscious repatterned. (Did you know about that?)

A: No.

Q: Is that something you would want to know about?

A: No.

Now, several more documents are presented by the defense and logged into evidence. SSS, TTT, UUU, VVV, WWW, XXX, YYY. Some type of "diary," not the one the defense tried to get in, but something else, and Rosen reads from it. Another document, ZZZ. "First sober day on August 21st, 2002. Now something from her hospital records, when she broke her wrists around Christmas, 2001.

I take a yawn. Mosty because I only had five hours of sleep. Alternate #2 yawns too. Now Plourd is presenting a draft of a proposed loan agreement. Rosen reads from it. "The struggle is wearing me down." Alternate #4 looks out at the gallery. Rosen continues reading from the document and something strikes me as strange. "Will you be giving private showings of the penis puppet show? He, he!" I write this note to Steven---> PENIS PUPPET SHOW? And Steven writes back: An Australian show that played here a few years ago.

There are more questions for Dr. Pena about her bills More statements to Dr. Pena about Lana's difficulties, and her statements about hurting herself.

Q: Would that make any difference to you, as to MOD?

A: No.

The jury really is restless now. Now Plourd is really stretching it. He's asking about people engaging in "risky behavior." Calling "drinking" risky behavior. Juror #6 is leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, his chin resting on his hand. More jury fidgeting. Maybe Plourd is wrapping it up? Could it be? Now he's trying to get Dr. Pena to concede that there are some circumstances where there is risky behavior, but Dr. Pena says, "You have to look at it on a case by case basis." The defense is now on document BBBB. Another report from the autopsy file. He's asking him to look at page two of a report in Dr. Pena's own handwriting. Dr. Pena says he has to see the first page to put the report in context. Part of the document has to do with accidental discharge of a weapon.

Jackson: Object on! Witness hasn't fully answered.

Judge: Have you?

A: No.

Judge: You man continue.

A: This (report) is a meeting based on the autopsy alone.

Q: You could not rule (on MOD)?

A: At that time.

Q: And your opinion hasn't changed?

A: Not correct. That report was based on information at the time.

Q: Did you know she was receiving narcotics from other sources?

A: I didn't know that. (snip)

Now Dr. Pena is talking about some data that he made a note to search for, but he never did. It's statistical information on women who kill themselves with a gun. Dr. Pena states, "Women in our county are less likely to use a weapon." So now Plourd is really attacking with his questions because he never got the statistical information. Picky, picky! Dr. Pena says he just ran out of time. The jury is restless. I thought he was going to wrap it up, but he's still going. The Judge finally calls a recess.

11:05 am. The break is over. Back to this boring cross. Now Plourd is asking about narcotics. Rochelle is totally focused on her blackberry, typing away. The attorneys approach the bench for a sidebar. And the gallery and jury wait. Spector and Cutler talk. LKB is intently staring at her computer monitor. And then I notice it. What does Rochelle have wrapped around her? Is it an Afghan? It looks bright green and black. I just can't see from here. Maybe it's part of her outfit? No. Can't be. She is too meticulous about her appearance in court. Maybe it a coat. LKB actually looks good today. Her hair is pulled back with a clasp. She's wearing a black dress with a gray suit jacket over it. Steven takes off at break. He has to go to his office and work on some other projects I believe. Some jurors are looking down. Others are watching the Judge and the attorneys. Most appear bored and restless.

11:20 am. We're back on cross. Another document for Pena to look at. Plourd asks him to just read it to himself, then Plourd's going to ask him about it and then the Judge will also have some questions. I was surprised that nothing was mentioned in court about Dr. Lee's letter to the press. This is a LONG document.

Judge: After reading this document, is there anything in there that would cause you to change your opinion?

Pena: No.

Brunon speaks to Plourd. The Judge calls the attorneys to approach. ANOTHER sidebar! Maybe it's a poncho coat Rochelle has wrapped around her. Plourd takes a moment to confer with his legal team. Maybe we are down to the end. Plourd receives another post-it note from Rosen.

Q: From the medical evidence, could Lana Clarkson have accidentally shot herself?

A: Very unusual area, the mouth for an accidental discharge of a gun.

Now the defense is asking about a white spot on her shoes in one of the photographs. Dr. Pena says he can't recall. He says he may not have seen her body (at the examiner's office) with her clothes on. And that's it! Cross is finished. Unbelievable.

Alan Jackson steps up to redirect Dr. Pena. "No such luck that I'm not going to ask nay questions. Jackson asks for a moment since their assistant is having trouble locating some of the images he wants to use. The assistant is struggling to find the right exhibit.

Q: Dr. Pena, did you have a good weekend?

A: Yes!

There's a bit of laughter in the courtroom. Jackson then clears up the question about the white thing on Lana's shoe. It's a band-aid. Lana had just bought new shoes, and I wouldn't be surprised if she put band-aids on her heels while they break in.

Q: Do you think it's important to put into context, what people are saying?

A: That's correct.

Jackson is making the point that the defense did not put the letters and emails into context. Jackson proceeds to put the items the defense brought up into context by reading the entire documents, showing their full intent. That all those depressed statements were actually referring to her acting career and not suicide. He does this by reading them in a much different tone than Rosen did. Jackson's readings are upbeat. Positive. Rosen's readings were very sad in tone.

The lunch recess is called.

In the elevator, we talk about how the attorneys read the letters so differently. Dominick totally agrees that just the way they were read made them come across in two different ways.

Court is over for me now, and I head back home to try to get caught up on several neglected projects.