Friday, August 24, 2007
First off, I want to say that there are a few more entries yet to come covering the trial. I still have to finish my entry on the jury's visit to the Castle, as well as my trial coverage for August 13th through the 15h. Hopefully, I plan to get up at some time, a detailed comparison of Ms. Caplan's testimony the first time she was on the stand at the evidentiary hearing, to when she finally testified in front of the jury. I think having those two events typed out in written form for comparison would be interesting. Last, there are some days back in July that I totally missed getting an entry up. That will happen now that I am, as Kim of The Darwin Exception would say, "...a lady of leisure..." again. So please watch for these entries over the next coming weeks. Additionally, CCA is still attending the trial and if he gets in, I will ask him to do a guest entry on the days events if he's feeling up to it.
Although I've received a ton of emails at my blog and posts of support on the Court TV message board for my decision to leave the courtroom, ~and I'm still trying to respond to it all~ the professional reporters who sort of adopted me and treated me like a colleague are quite dismayed with my decision to stop attending the trial. Seeing as how even my husband had difficulty understanding my decision ~no husband is perfect, lol, as much as their wives would like them to be~ I thought that I would try to shed a little bit more light on my decision making process, and the goals and values I had and still do, regarding attending this trial.
From the very onset, my goal was to attend as much of the trial as my work schedule would permit. As attending the trial became more interesting, and the various players in the well and behind the scenes in the gallery more fascinating, I altered my work schedule even more so that I wouldn't miss seeing Alan Jackson perform a brilliant cross examination. From the very beginning, I never had any expectation that I would get to observe closing arguments or even the verdict. At the Blake trial, it was the luck of the public lottery that I got in for both events, and I fully expected it to be the same for this case. I wanted to write about attending this trial because I'm part of an increasing community of crime forum users (and now bloggers), that discuss true crime, current trials and past unsolved crimes on the Internet. I wanted to share my experience with my fellow true crime followers, because this is a normal part of my day and life long interests. I never thought in a million years that writing about my experiences at this trial would get any notice outside of this select community.
Much to my surprise, it did. I never asked Steven Mikulan to include me in any of his articles. Certainly I was flattered when he told me he wanted to include a little blurb about me, and I told my immediate family when it came out online. Understand, that was his decision alone to include my blogging about the trial in one of his weekly pieces. Additionally, I never asked Mr. Dunne to mention me in Vanity Fair. He called me, wanting to get the details correct about when Louis Spector came to court, and how I "knew" him. I also helped him to remember what exactly happened right after I introduced him to Louis at the morning break. When he talked to me, I thought my name might be mentioned, but he never told me it would. When Mick Brown came to court on August 13th, he introduced himself to me, told me he read my blog, and asked for my email address. I believed I blushed a bit, and it was all I could do to shake his hand and say, "It's an honor to meet you." The man is So Dreamy. He was thinking of writing an article on the bloggers covering the trial. Unlike W, I did not go up to him the minute he arrived on the 9th floor, and attempt to glue myself to him for the rest of the morning. Truth is, I didn't know what he looked like. For the longest time I had him confused with Carlton Smith, another Spector book author who has often been in court. It was Mr. Dunne who had to correct my ignorance, informing me that Mick was a personal friend of his. Although I don't know for sure, I bet Dominick passed on more than a few words about W to Mick when they had lunch together that day.
I have had several critics on the Court TV Phil Spector Forum boards. You can read this thread, (hopefully it will still be there, by the time this entry gets up) to get a flavor of some of my critics, and what they complain about. From the very start, I tried my best to ignore them at court and on the message boards, and rarely if ever, engaged in any posting exchange with them. I would put their member names on "ignore," which meant that when I would read the boards, their posts would not appear for me. I had no interest in reading their negativity towards me. It became obvious to me that jealousy was fueling these attacks, because they coveted the relationship that Mr. Dunne had developed with me, and were envious of the attention I was getting on the Court TV Phil Spector message board, and in the press.
Every since I had the experience of attending the Blake trial, I have always been cognizant of where I sat, in relation to the jury. It was during Blake that I learned how important being silent around them was, because a People Magazine reporter almost caused a mistrial. That's one of the things I vividly remember, was the Judge having this woman dragged into the courtroom and admonished. In the beginning of this trial, I actually was sitting closer to the jury than I did months later. If I wanted to ask a question, I passed a written note, or once in a great while, turned my head to whisper directly into the ear of the person sitting next to me. Even out in the hallway when the jury would come back from their lunch time smoke break, as soon as they appeared in the hallway, I would go silent. One of the last things I ever wanted was to be dragged into the legal proceedings of this trial, in any way, shape or form. But one of my detractors purposefully tried to get me ejected from observing the trial, jealous of where I was sitting. I took umbrage at the sheer audacity, that someone would take their personal agenda, and try to hijack something as serious as a murder trial.
The humiliation and embarrassment of that event was too much for me, and I left the courtroom for the rest of the day. I am a sensitive person. I freely admit I don't have the required "thick skin," which one of the accredited reporters reminded me, is a necessary component of being an objective journalist. Early on in the trial, I lost all sense of an accredited writer's journalistic objectivity, and began to identify with Mrs. Clarkson and Lana's sister, Fawn. Seeing those horrible images of Lana in the chair, dead in Spector's foyer, there were times when I found it difficult to control my emotions, and I'd start to cry. Dominick told me that a similar situation happened to him when he was covering the O.J. Simpson trial, although he never said that he got emotional in the way that I did. What's more likely, is that he got angry, because he has been in Fred Goldman's, the Brown family, and Mrs. Clarkson's shoes. I remind everyone, he is the father of a murdered child.
After the false accusation by the Judge, outside the courthouse and walking down the ramp to the parking lot, Mrs. Clarkson said to me (and I'm paraphrasing here because I can't remember her words exactly), "You must come back to court. We need you. We have endured much worse in that courtroom from this defendant and his defense team. If we can sit there and endure it, so can you." Her plea to me welled my eyes up with tears again, and gave me the courage to return to 106 the following week.
And that brings me now to why I left the courtroom completely, and have ignored the urgings of my husband and friends in the courtroom to go back. It no longer was a positive experience for me. I did not enjoy being there anymore. The atmosphere was too toxic for me, and I needed to separate myself from that. Whether it was intentional or not, I sat in that back row right beside AlanParachini, and I felt humiliated, again. No one told W when they entered the courtroom that they had to sit in the third or fourth rows, so it didn't appear that this assignment to the back row applied to all general public. I was in direct line of sight of Judge Fidler . I could not see the witnesses. I could barely see a third of the jurors. I could only see the back of the attorneys during direct and cross. It seemed to me, like I was being singled out and forced to sit in the worst reporting area of the courtroom. Like a child who is being punished and is no longer able to sit with their seat mates. Whether my perception was right or wrong, that's what I felt. I felt miserable. I was starting to cry again. And that's what did it for me. I did not want to be in that courtroom, crying again. For me, I felt the best decision was to walk away from the toxic atmosphere in the room, with my dignity and sense of self intact. I am so grateful for the experience of getting to see the majority of a high profile case up close and personal. For virtually all of it, I did get to have a great seat in the room, and I will never forget all the amazing reporters and other players I got to meet and talk to.
And that's why this is an apology to Mrs. Clarkson and Fawn. I'm sorry that I did not stay like you asked me to do, and that I will no longer be one of the windows to the world on all the behind the scenes manipulating drama, that has taken place outside the view of the general public in this trial. Please know, that there thousands of people out there that are keeping both of you in their hearts, while that cesspool of a defense team tries with every underhanded trick they can, to drag Lana's memory through the mud. Your strength, to be able to sit there and listen to the lies and smear campaign is amazing to me. Unfortunately, you can't leave that murky atmosphere. You have to stay to the bitter end, to show these jurors that Lana had a family who loved her, and that you have been waiting over four-and-a-half years, for her justice to finally be served. It's time.