Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sara Caplan takes the Stand, Rachelle’s Gold Lamme Pantsuit, & Pie Shows Us Her “Girls”

This is an unfinished, unedited draft entry.

So much for our first glimpse of “Pie.” There’s nothing worse than looking at an orange hued, over-the-hill rock band groupie with her own bad hair issues ~that’s seen one too many parties~ but did she also have to subject us to viewing her sad, sagging-down-to-her-navel breasts in court? Dominick, Ciaran, Steven and I had been waiting for her to make an entrance, and that she did. With a large glob of silver hanging down in-between where her unsupported breasts were about to pop out of her jacket top, Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin (it appears she didn’t change her entire name to “Punkin Pie,” just added the “Punkin”) took the witness stand. Did she actually think that squeezing into a black jacket and pants would be all she needed to wear to clean up her image for court? Since Ms. Laughlin was only on the stand for about a half an hour, all she has testified to so far is to identify photos of her and Lana drinking at several different bar parties. I can’t wait to see if over the weekend, someone actually introduces “Pie” to a Victoria’s Secret store, where she could try on a bra for the first time in her life.

But let’s back up to the beginning of the day.

When I arrived at the back of the court building, I see Miriam Hernandez still outside on her cell phone. I know immediately (since I’m not on the court’s public liaisons list of reporters to call) that the Caplan issue must be first up. Once up on the 9th floor, (Dominick is already there of course; he’s always early) and after Ciaran arrives I find out that the proceedings will be delayed until 10:00 am. I start to see quite a few new faces in the hallway. Everyone is here to see Sara Caplan get thrown in jail. There are quite a few more deputy’s in the hallway. I’m hoping that I can sneak in behind Dominick. Dominick has already told me that, if there’s any problem with me getting in, he will try to plead my case, for me to enter with the rest of the reporters.

There’s no problem; I’m able to get in with Ciaran and Dominick, but Steven isn’t here yet and we’re hoping he didn’t get shanghaied by the notorious elevators like he did yesterday. The courtroom is full. The dateline reporter with the I’d die for that color of auburn hair is here. The room is restless. Spector hasn’t arrived and I don’t see Rosen anywhere. Sandi Gibbons from the DA’s office arrives, and takes a seat in the row in front of us beside the family attorney. Lately, she has been greeting me by saying, “Hello Sprocket!” Dominick and Sandi have known each other for a long time, and they often share stories while the rest of us listen in.

As we wait for court to start, we talk about whether or not Spector will try to flee the country. One reporter jokes about Spector escaping it all by having one of his lackeys take him to a field in the middle of the night with a waiting plane to whisk him to another country. “He kills the wife and then gets on the plane!” Everybody has a good laugh at the supposed scenario.

It’s 10:10 am, and Rosen is finally here. I look up from writing a note and I see Spector standing at the defense table. He’s got his sorbet colors on again; the 70’s orange tie, the pink shirt, and an tannish looking frock coat and vested suit. Now I see that Brunon is here making a rare appearance. And then Rachelle comes into view. Just when I think the outfits can’t get any more inappropriate for court, she wears another one. At first, I think, well, at least it’s pants and not knickers, but then I take a closer look. It’s a skin tight, light gold lamme jacket and pants. She’s wearing four inch black pumps (NOT Christian Louboutin this time). I don’t immediately see the type of top she’s wearing with it, because she’s sitting down intently working her blackberry, and because I can’t get over the rats nest that is on top of her head. Beth Karas and I both don’t get it. She’s got at least $800 on her feet but her hair is pulled up tight on top of her head, and then is spilling out every which way a rats nest. Sheesh! Does she actually do this to herself? I mean, she’s getting a killer wardrobe out of this deal, you’d think she’d go to the salon and spend some of those bucks on her head.

In the back of the court room by the door, there are like five or six extra deputy’s, and two extra plain clothes officers ready to take Caplan into custody. The overhead projection screen for the Elmo is rolled up to clear the way to the little room right beside the bailiff’s desk where Caplan will be whisked off to jail. The cord to pull down the screen has been fashioned into a large, round loop at the end. I point out the hanging loop to Sandi and Dominick, that is ominously swinging back and forth a bit, and Dominick says, “It does look like a hangman’s noose!”

Finally, all the attorney’s emerge from the Judge’s chambers. There is some discussion on the record about the last communication Jackson received from Mr. Nassiter, Caplan’s main attorney (who isn’t here today; only her appellate attorney is with her), was that Ms. Caplan was not going to testify. But here, at the last minute, Caplan decides that she’s going to testify. This creates a problem for Jackson because he has not prepared. He was planning on her testifying on the 23rd. The defense is ready to go (they prepared for this contingency) so the Judge throws Jackson a bone. He says that Ms. Caplan will go forward at 1:30 pm after lunch, so that Jackson will have the lunch hour to go over Caplan’s prior testimony. And that’s it. We’re back to Detective Tomlin on the stand under cross by Jackson.

Once the jury enters, I see Spector s l o w l y sit down in his chair, making sure not to sit on his long coattails. Jackson continues his cross, getting in again, all the details of Stephanie Jenning’s experience with Spector in that NY Hotel room. Point by point. Rosen was a moron to bring up these discrepancies, because it gives Jackson the opportunity to put all of this damaging testimony in front of the jury a second time for not only Stephanie Jennings, but for Rommie Davis, Kathy Sulivan and the waitress.

A cell phone goes off in court. It’s a young reporter, an associate at the AP, who is sitting with Linda Deutsch. She quickly turns it off, thinking that’s okay, but it’s too late. She takes her punishment gracefully, when the bailiff comes over and escorts her from the court room. As Jackson finishes his cross, Rosen steps back up to the podium and I see Peter Y. Hong from the Los Angeles Times slip into the back row. Rosen is now actually ranting at his own witness! Jackson in his cross, had effectively turned this witness to his own advantage. I lean into Dominick and say, “To quote Mr. Dunne, this is pathetic.” Dominick gives me a big smile and a chuckle.

During one of the cross, then redirect then recross sessions, Rosen actually gets up and objects to Jackson talking to fast. It’s hysterical, and the Judge, laughing sustains the motion. When Jackson speaks again, it’s r e a l ~ s l o w, and laughter erupts in the court rom again. Jackson says, “I couldn’t let that go by.”

Finally, this witness is finished and the court takes a break. I see Spector’s bodyguards, one on each side of Rosen, giving him affectionate pats on the back. Don’t they know Rosen’s defense is sinking? Are these defense attorney's so deluded, that they actually think they are scoring big points with the jury? Rosen and Spector talk for a moment.

During the break, Ciaran was standing right beside Linda Deutsch, when he clearly heard Spector and Rachelle tell Linda a story about Lana. According to Rachelle and Spector, Lana use to get $1,000 a night for being a party girl and “eating a gun.” It was something she supposedly got paid to do. I’m thinking this story probably originated with “Babydol.”

The break is over, and the next defense witness is called. It’s Angela Pileggi Silberstein. When Angela takes the stand we are subjected to the beginning of "Act Two," of the Pileggi girls Family Feud. As we learned from Melissa on the stand, she’s estranged from her sisters, and these two, Angela and Cathi don’t disappoint in bringing us into this long running sibling cat fight of she said/she said. On direct, Rosen gets the witness to “gush” about Spector. “He’s a wonderful man. I adore him now,” she says. On cross, Jackson gets the witness to admit that the first time she ever called Spector, it was for a favor to get backstage passes to the Stone’s concert, because, Angela had met Keith Richards before through Spector. Now Melissa’s accusations of her sister being a drug addict are starting to sound pretty realistic. Under cross, Angela reluctantly admits that even though she knew her sister was lying, (about the conviction and the theft of a plaque from a Judge’s rented house during the Master’s Tournament in Agusta, GA) she made no attempt to contact the prosecution in all of 2004, and all of 2005. (Imagine that!) It wasn’t until her sister took her ex-husband’s side in a child custody dispute that Angela felt she had better tell somebody about Melissa Grosvenor's prior conviction and other impulsive, bad girl acts.

It’s about 11:45 and Rosen is getting irritated with Jackson's cross.

Judge: Mr. Rosen! Watch your tone of voice!

I look over at the jury, and to me, they appear to be enjoying this bit of drama that’s popped up. The witness still isn’t finished by the noon hour, and will have to be held over until after lunch.

Towards the end of the lunch hour, the hallway fills up with credentialed reporters again. I really worry that I won’t get into court, but Steven reassures me that I’ve established myself, and he thinks there won’t be a problem. The group promises to save me my seat. I wait at the door while the registered press gets in right away. Standing by the door, Alan from the public liaisons office asks if there’s anybody else. A woman with sort of a wine colored dyed job on her black hair (think "goth look) says, “Blogger!” and she gets in! I immediately say the same thing, “Blogger!” and Alan lets me into the court room right after her. I am overjoyed and I slip into my regular seat beside Dominick.

We still have to finish up with the first angry sibling before we can move on to why everybody is here. The Sara Caplan show. The court room is almost packed with reporters and trial watchers. One of the Court TV camera operators' whole family is here, and Beth says hello to them when she gets into the court room.

Sandi is sitting right in front of Dominick, and she turns to let us know that Sara will be the people's 35th witness. Our little group wonders how many Peleggi sisters are there? There's at least four, but there's probably more. Someone says, (regarding Angela) "She's pretty in a trashy sort of way." And someone else responds, "Is there any other way? The Zeppo family: how many were there?" I think this is so exciting! Caplan is going to take the stand. The dateline reporter with the hair I envy asks me for my blog web address. A few more people are let into the courtroom, and it looks like everyone who was waiting in the hall got in. Stan Goldman, the law professor is here. I wonder if he's been on Court TV today. I see the other blogger is in the back row on a laptop, and I wonder what her blog is. If I see her again, I will probably ask her.

In the hallway, when we were waiting, the jury arrived escorted as usual by their bailiffs. (One in front of the group and one in back.) However, the court room door was locked, and they had to wait. Our group noticed that one of the trial watchers was standing right beside the jurors, watching for the door to be opened. They appeared to be oblivious to how close they were to the jurors. I finally reached out to them to indicate they needed to step away. I was right. They didn't realize how close they were.

The judge and jury are seated and Rosen tries to redirect his witness. During recross, I totally miss whether or not Angela did lose custody of her twin boys. Finally! Sara Caplan!

In the morning, before court started, Dominick went over to Sara to say hello to her, hold her hand for a moment and give her some words of support. Dominick tells us that he's known Ms. Caplan for a long time, and he really likes her. As he did twice before, Jackson steps up to perform the direct examination. Sara looks like she swallowed a bitter pills all morning. It's evident she's angry and sullen to be here. With Jackson's second question, Caplan pauses, almost reluctant to answer.
The Judge asks her "Did you become aware that he had been arrested?" And right out of the box, Caplan asks to consult with her attorney. "Sure," Fidler says. The Judge explains to the court room that Caplan is represented by her counsel and that she can consult with him. Caplan then says, "To the extent that he may be asking me to reveal confidential communications, I can't do that." The Judge then gets this incredulous expression on his face and asks, "As to whether or not you became aware the he was arrested?"

I think it's at this time that Brunon stands up and states that he will be the attorney that will be posing the objections to this witness. A bit of laughter erupts in the court room, especially Mr. Jackson. (What follows is my rendition of testimony via the Court TV archived videos.)

Judge: Can you rephrase your question?

Q: Sure, Sure. Let me see if I can put it... I'm not asking you obviously Ms. Caplan, for, ah, any privledged communicatons. First of all, let's introduce you to the jury a little bit. I was going to do this a different way, but, let's start off. Uh, what do you do for a living.

A: I'm an attorney.

Q: Okay. And at some point.... How long have you been an attorney?

A: Twenty-four years.

Q: So, back in 2003, some where around 20 years, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: And what kind of practice do you have?

A: I'm a criminal defense attorney.

Q: Alright. And that may answer some questions that are pending, and please, if I ask a question that you find, uh, difficult to answer, you are more than welcome to interrupt me, and take what ever time you need. Ah.

A: Thank you.

Q: Ms. Caplan, my question simply is, at some point, did you ah, where you employed in a capacity of representative capacity of Phillip Spector?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. Lets get to it that way. On, let's say, and if you'll agree with me, February fourth, was the day after the shooting. If you will agree with me that that's the date, on February fourth, in your capacity as an attorney for Mr. Spector, uh, did you go to 1700 GrandView Drive?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. There were other attorneys that were employed by Mr. Spector as well, correct, on that date?

A: Correct.

Q: And that included who?

Brunon objects; relevancy.

Judge: I think it is relevant as to who was present, and uh, the objection is over rulled. You may answer.

Q: And, I'll narrow my question's your honor. The only people that I'm interested in, are, anybody else that was there in a representative capacity, in the home, at 1700 Grand View. Who else was there?

A: Robert Shapiro.

Q: Alright. And you worked with Mr. Shapiro, correct?

A: Yes I did.

Q: And both of you were employed as, in your representative capacity as an attorney for Mr. Spector, at that time.

A: Correct.

Q: And that was in connection, not with something else, but with, the shooting that took place the day before, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Alright. Um, did you actually go to the location with anybody else, or, by yourself?

A: I don't recall.

Q: Alright. Once at the location, what is the, and, I'm gonna trummet (?) it this way: the scene, if you will. Was the scene eventually turned over from law enforcement to, Mr. Spector's attorney's, you and Mr. Shapiro?

A: Yes.

Q: About what time was that, Ms. Caplan?

A: It was in the evening. It was perhaps around seven-thirty, eight o'clock.

Q: Okay. And, assuming that, it was the day after, that would have been on February fourth, yes?

A: Correct.

Q: Okay. Uh, sun was already gone down, starting to get dark out?

A: Yes.

Q: Where there, by the way, I should ask you this as well, so that we're all clear. You are no longer Mr. Spector's lawyer, as you sit here today? Correct?

A: Correct.

Q: And Mr. Shapiro's no longer Mr. Spector's lawyer as well, correct.

A: You'll have to ask Mr. Shapiro.

Q: To your knowledge.

A: To my knowledge.

Q: That's correct.

A: To my knowledge.

Q: To your knowledge what mam?

A: To my knowledge he is not.

Q: Okay. Um, Who else was at the location, when you, arrived, at around seven, or a little there after?

A: The Sheriff's were still there.

Q: Okay.

A: There were some people around the premises of the property.

Q: Law enforcement personel, or, individuals employed to your knowledge by Mr. Spector?

A: I think there were also just people. There were people. There were law enforcement people.

Q: Who else was there in, ah, that was part of the defense team if you will?

A: There was Robert Shapiro and myself. Dr. Michael Baden, Dr. Henry Lee, William Pavelic, Stan White. Jay Romaine was there for a while.

Q: Anybody else that you recall?

A: That's all that I can recall right now.

Q: Okay. Um, Mr. Shapiro is an attorney.

A: Yes.

Q: Uh, Mr. Baden is an expert.

A: Dr. Baden, yes.

Q: Dr. Baden is a forensic pathologist, correct.

A: Yes.

Q: Alright. You understand Henry Lee to be who?

A: Henry Lee.

Q: What does he do for a living?

A: He is a criminologist.

Q: Okay. Or a criminalist?

A: Whatever.

Q: Okay. An expert?

A: Yes.

Q: Mr. Pavelic; what does he do?

A: He's an investigator as far as I know.

Q: Stan White. What does he do?

A: I don't know what he does. I didn't employ him.

Q: Okay. He was there in some, some capacity, to assist Mr. Spector and the rest of the team, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: And Jay Romaine?

A: Correct.

Q: And lets be clear, Mr. Spector was not at the location.

A: He was not at the location.

Q: Were there efforts taken by anybody at the location who for instance, put up big ??? lights or flood lights?

A: A big flood light was put up, yes.

Q: And that lit the room, correct?

A: I don't know how much of the room it lit. It lit part of the room.

Q: Alright. You didn't have any trouble seeing, certain areas of the foyer, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: At any time, and I'm going to narrow my questions very, very specifically now. Ah, and try to get to the point. At any time, while you were at the location, did you see anybody, any member of the defense team, touch, move or manipulate, anything that could be reasonably be described as small, white object.

Webberman: Objection! Compound!

Judge: Over rulled. Counsel, you can not, can not object. I'm sorry. If you wish to speak to your client, you may, but you don't have standing in this proceding other wise.

A: You've asked me three different questions. I saw people touch things at the crime scene.

Q: Ms. Caplan, I'd ask you to put it in the disjunctive. Touch, move, or manipulate, any item, that could reasonably be described as a small, white item. Did you see anybody do that?

A: I saw someone touch a white object.

Q: Could you describe that for the jurors please?

A: Describe touching it or describe the object?

Q: I'll take both.

A: There was a piece of, there was something white, that I saw, that was about the size of my entire fingernail. And, I do not know what it was. I have no idea what it was. I called Dr. Lee's attention to it. He came over to it. He picked it up, and put it in a vial. I do not know what happened to it. I don't remember where I saw it. I don't know what it was.

Q: Okay. You're not a criminalist, obviously.

A: Obviously.

Q: You're a lawyer by trade.

A: Yes.

Q: Not trained in, criminalistics, in any way, shape, or form or fashion.

A: Correct.

Q: You didn't know what the small white object was, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: But it was, described as; I'm sorry. You described it as white, correct?

A: Yes.

Q: About the size of a fingernail?

A: Uh-um. Yes.

Q: I was on the floor, or on the ground some where?

A: I don't remember where it was.

Q: Let me ask you this. Let me see if I can narrow it a little bit. We're talking about a relatively palatial estate, at 1700 Grand View. You were in the foyer area of that house when you saw this object, correct?

A: Yes.

Q: That's where the flood lights were, is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: And that's where you saw, Henry Lee, uh, do what ever it is that he did with it, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Alright. You just don't recall exactly where in the foyer where it was.

A: Correct.

Q: It was a, was it a flat object?

A: Yes.

Q: Did it have uneven edges on it?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. Uh, you pointed it out to Mr. Lee?

A: Dr. Lee, yes.

Q: Okay. Um, When you pointed this out to Dr. Henry Lee, what exactly did you see him do, with that item, if anything?

A: I saw him, pick it up, and put it in a vial.

Q: What did you see him pick it up with Ms. Caplan?

A: I'm not sure what he picked it up with.

Q: Do you recall specifically testfying uh, at least on two different occasions at a previous hearing, in front of this Judge?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. Do you recall specifically testifying that you saw him pick up this item, small flat, white item with uneven edges, with a pair of tweezers.

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Okay. Was that truthful testimony at that time?

A: That's what I believed he used.

Q: So, your best recollection, and I realize, it's been a little while, your best recollection Ms. Caplan, is that when Mr., Dr. Lee, I'm sorry, picked up this small flat white object with uneven edges, he did so with a pair of tweezers or something like that.

A: I wasn't focusing on that he was using to pick it up.

Q: You did testify under oath that i was in fact tweezers.

A: I also said it could have been the cotton swabs.

Q: Okay. Please listen to my question Ms. Caplan. Did you or did you not, testify at a previous hearing, that, what you saw him pick it up with, were tweezers?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. As a matter of fact, counsel, I'm sorry. Linda. Sorry. Join me if you will in turning to page 1672, and that's the May third, ah, transcript. (Unintelligble) Thank you.


Judge: I, I don't know what the next question is. Are you just, is, are you just going to ask her? Are you going to read the testimony that she just agreed that she has previously testified to?

Q: I was going to ask her specific questions about exactly how she termed it. In other words, if you'll allow me, I'm not going to read this yet so.

Judge: The objection is over ruled. You may proceed.

Q: Thank you. When you were asked questions at that previous hearing, and you testified on May third, is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. When you were asked questions, and asked to describe what you saw, Dr. Lee do, you indicated, in other words, it wasn't a leading question. You suggested, or you indicated, "I saw him bend over and pick it up with a tweezer," correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. Um, and subsequently you were asked some questions about, possible Q-tips, and you subsequently said, "Well, I guess it could have been Q-tips." And that was at a separate hearing, is that right?

A: Correct.

Q: Alright. Um, You saw Dr. Lee, pick this item up, with something. Manipulated it with something, not with his hands, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: And what exactly Ms. Caplan, did you watch him do with this item?

A: I didn't see him manipulate it. I saw him pick it up and put it in a vial.

Q: Okay. Maybe I'm being inartful with my linguistics. I don't mean to be and I don't want to cut hairs here. I'm asking you when he picked it up, what did you see him do with it?

A: Put it in a vial.

Q: What size vial, about?

A: I can't estimate size.

Q: Okay. Can you tell me if it was maybe this big? Or.

A: I'm going to guess, it's about six inches.

Q: Okay. About the length maybe of a dollar bill or so.

A: I, it could be.

Q: Was it cylindrical?

A: Yes.

Q: Was it clear?

A: Yes.

Q: Could you see through it? In other words, opaque?

A: I know what clear means, yes. You could see through it.

Q: And did it have some kind of a stopper on it?

A: It, I didn't pay attention to the stopper.

Q: Did you pay attention to whether or not Dr. Lee actually put the stopper on the top of the vial?

A: No, I did not.

Q: Did you ever receive that item: small, white, flat, solid item with uneven edges? Did you ever receive that in your capacity as an attorney, from Dr. Lee? Did you take possession of it?

A: I never had possession of it.

Q: In whose, when was the last time you ever saw that item?

A: The last time I saw that item was on February fourth.

Q: When Dr. Lee was putting that item into the vial?

A: Correct.

Q: And you never saw it again after that?

A: Correct.

Q: In whose possession, was the last person, you saw handling that item?

A: Dr. Lee.

Jackson: Thank you.

There's a moment of delay, and then Jackson get's up to ask one more question.

Q: I just have one last area, if you don't mind, with the court's indulgence Ms. Caplan. You're aware here in California, of the duties that you've said you've been...

Brunon objects, but the Judge says he will allow the testimony on the objection. Brunon asks for a sidebar. The jury intently watches the attorneys at the bench. When they are done, it appears Jackson doesn't get to explore this last area and Linda Kenney Baden is the one who gets up and performs the cross of Caplan.

Q: Good afternoon Ms. Caplan.

A: Good afternoon Ms. Baden.


A: I've known Dr. Lee since 1994.

Q: In prior cases, have you ever known Dr. Lee to

Objection! Sustained!

to be continued...

I was not in the court room the first time Ms. Caplan testified, and I wanted to see how different her testimony was this time on the stand. So sometime hopefully, I'm going to go back and rewatch Court TV's coverage, and transcribe it.

There were rumors in the courtroom that Jody “Babydol” Gibson would be one of the witnesses called to the stand next week. Finally! “It’s getting interesting!” Dominick said.


Suzi said...

Great description of Punkin and hope she makes it over to Victoria's Secrets and finds a comb for her hair. Your blog is a delight. Thanks.

Sue Not Susan said...

Man, it sounds great to have all these "regular" media types sticking up for you!! So glad you made it into court. Congratulations and thanks again.

Will tune back later for more updates. We do enjoy your notes from the previous sessions, by the way! It's all good!!

monica h. said...

I just found your site which is the best and most detailed of any other's I've found.

Your comments on Rachelle's wardrobe are priceless.
Where DID this girl come from?

Keep your reports coming, I will be reading daily.