Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trial Notes, 8-8-07 & Decerebrate Posturing

Wednesday, August 8th

I catch a bus but I'm real late. I'm hoping I get into court before 9:30 am. Well, I'm not that late but if the lines are long it may delay me a bit. I'm very tired, mostly from arguing with Mr. Sprocket last night. He wanted to try to install an new printer we got with my new macBook, but it was almost 11 pm, and I had already told him over an hour before that we needed to get to bed early. I'm also irritated because I didn't have time to eat this morning. I'll have to grab a banana in the cafeteria of there's time.

Success! I make the 8:29 am train. However, the car is unbearably hot, more so than usual for the subway cars. I at least manage to get a seat facing the direction we will be traveling. There's a young man already semiconscious next to me with torn jeans and his iPod blaring in his ears.

This trial has been an unbelievable experience for me, but when it ends, it ends. After yesterday's experience at the press meeting, unless Mr. Dunne really would like me to go with him like we panned, then I"m passing on the Castle trip tomorrow. I close my eyes to clear my mind to think. At the Hollywood Highland stop the man next to me asks, "Hollywood and Highland?" "Yes," I reply. "Are you getting off somewhere in Hollywood?" "Wilshire Vermont (station)" he says. "Well then, you have a little ways to go," I tell him.

Up on the 9th floor inside 106, I notice there's a new guy in the room. I have in my notes, "Doesn't that guy have the look of an expert witness?" But I don't have who said it to me. Sitting behind me is another trial watcher named Jon Scott, who owns an Internet music station called All Memphis Music. He's been coming to court for a little while now with a friend of his from Miami, FL. Jon tells me and Dominick about an interview Rolling Stone Magazine did with Michael Bay in 2001. Dominick and I listen while Jon and his friend talk about the highlights of the interview. Dominick mentions that he went to college with John Frakenheimer, who is Michael Bay's biological father. Someone mentions that Bay is 42 years old. Jon is sorry that he didn't bring the article with him today, but tells us how to get to it online at Rolling Stone's web site.

She changed her hair again today. I overhear someone near me whisper, "She's a first rate, third rate person." It's the first time I've seen her wear a conservative, regular suit with hosiery and heels. Juror #6 comes out of the jury room and sits in his seat. Jon asks, "Do you think they can nail them for sleeping?" I don't think so. I've heard of other trials where jurors slept, and nothing happened because of it. Now we hear why Juror #6 is in the courtroom by himself. Bay has a connection to this juror. Two of his films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Texas Chainsaw Revisited were released by New Line, where the juror works. The juror is asked if this fact will in any way affect his ability to be impartial, and he replies, "No." And that's it.

K returns to the courtroom. This blond woman CCA met outside the courtroom this morning is in hushed conversation, whispering to CCA. Rosen's girlfriend enters, and sits with Rachelle in the second row. The attorneys are at the bench. Rosen and Dixon are off to the side, talking. Judge calls for Alan Parachini, the court's liaison officer. This morning, in the hallway before court started, when Jackson came by with the cart that has all their files, someone said, "You need one of those little bicycle bells." Jackson ran out of the courtroom real quick just a minute ago, and now he comes back in. It is confirmed that Peter Hong will be the other reporter for the Castle visit. One of the camera operators is taping down the microphone cords at the podium.

9:50 am, the jury is finally called. Linda Deutsch strolls into the courtroom. In the front row behind the defense is their expert witness, the clerk who I saw had the print out of my blog, and another young male clerk. We are now back to the Defense's CIC. The next witness is Dr. Jan Edward Leetsma, the 29th defense witness, and the 68th for the entire trial. Plourd conducts the direct examination.

Dr. Leestma is a nuropathologist. This is a sub specialty within the field of pathology. He completed his training in 1968, and has been practicing in that field ever since. Nuropathology is a focus with respect to the nervous system.

We can always tell when the pretty young prosecutor's ADA enters with papers and information because her high heels clack on the tile floor. Looking on over at Rachelle, Dominick leans in to whisper in my ear, "Look at those shoes!" They look like they are white and black patent leather five inch heels. It's a white shoe with black toe tips and black heels. I don't believe they are Christian Louboutin, but I can't see the soles from here to be sure. It's 10:00 am, and the contents of Linda Deutsch's purse drop on the floor. Her cell phone, and a few other items go flying. CCA is talking intently with a woman he met early this morning, and who is sitting in between me and him. I have no idea who she is. She appears to be just someone who showed up at court, and is not a poster on the message boards.

Leestma goes over his work experience, as well as the time he spent learning the electron microscope. Now he talks about having published over 100 articles. CCA writes me a note: He testified in the Michael Peterson case. He also has testified in the Louise Woodward "baby shaking" case. I write these notes in my book and show them to Dominick. A juror picks at their nails. Another juror has their arms crossed. Leestma is a part-time consultant to the Cook County Medical Examiner, which includes the Chicago area. One juror is supporting their head on their hand. Now two jurors have their arms crossed. I'm wondering how could he have performed a comprehensive review of all the medical examiner's medical evidence since we know he was contacted at the last moment. Ah, he focused on the damage to Lana's spinal cord.

Leestma testifies, "After the shot, there is an immediate loss of control by the upper brain. There could have been some reflex movements." Now the pathologist mentions a term that's hard for me to get correctly. Decerebrate posturing. And, he talks about "pithing" which is putting a needle in the back of the head of a frog, and the frog moves after death. "...the legs straighten out; the head is thrown back; the posturing ceases..." This reflex, is a reflex that is called decerebrate posturing which occurs when the lower spinal centers are released from control. It's enabled by the spinal cord being severed. So, the lower spinal cord itself is intact and can respond. The posturing, it could have happened at the moment of the gunshot or a second after.

Q: The heart still beats even though it's lost a connection to the brain?

A: That's correct. The heart has it's own internal pacemaker.

The heart has it's own internal pacemaker. Now Leestma goes onto say, there could be reflex movements that occur in the head so that doesn't tell you what position the head was in at the time of the incident. The woman who is sitting beside me is so cold, she had asked for the pool cameraman's sweater. Just boldly motioned for him to pass it over. Leetstma talks about the videos of people who kill themselves and the body does move afterwards, and these films are shown at conferences.

10:25 am, two distinguished looking gentlemen come in and sit beside Linda Deutsch in the second row. Jackson tries to get in objections to generalized comments. One objection is sustained, another is overruled. I wouldn't be surprised if Spector told the defense attorneys that this happened, that she twitched around. But I doubt he kept his stories straight from expert to expert. Leetstma testifies that the mechanisms our body has for breathing is in the pons and upper cervical cord. There are signals that take care of breathing. The chief one is the diaphragm, the muscle that produces inspiration. Exhalation, to a large degree is passive. Now Leestma mentions the phrenic nerve. Checking my Gray's Anatomy, this is what it says about the phrenic nerve.

The Phrenic Nerve (internal respiratory of Bell) arises chiefly from the fourth cervical nerve, with a few filaments from the third and a commnicating branch from the fifth. It descends to the root of the neck, running obliquely across the front of the Scalenus anticus, and beneath the Sterno-mastoid, the posterior belly of the Omo-hyloid, and the Transversalis colli and the suprascapular vessels. (Believe it or not, I actually understand this.) It next passes over the first part of the subclavian artery, between it and the subclavian vein, and, as it enters the chest, crosses the internal mammary artery near its origin. Within the chest it descends nearly vertically in front of the root of the lung and by the side of the pericardium, between it and the mediastinal portion of the pleura, to the Diaphragm, where it divides into branches, which separately pierce that muscle and are distributed to its under surface. There's more~the nerve that arises on the right is deeper in the body than the left~ but I guess that's enough detailed anatomy for now, lol!

Dr. Leestma states that normal breathing would cease, but it can go on. That would be possible because there are other muscles involved: the external intercostals lift and elevate the ribcage, and the internal intercostals that can contract and squeeze the chest. The abdominal muscles can contract, too. The rest of the spinal column nerves are intact and these could have kept the intercostal muscles going. The force to breathe out is much greater than the one to breathe in. At the time Leestma's testifying about this, I'm trying to keep from rolling my eyes and figure out how in the world the "intact" spinal column is supposed to do this for any reasonable length of time. This appears to me, to be another ridiculous, one in a billion DNA number possibility to try to explain the high velocity spatter on Spector's white ladies dinner jacket.

Leestma goes onto say that there was blood in the main breathway and the air sacks. He's adamant that it can't get there unless through breath, and adds, "It's hard to do without inspiratory action." An alternate crosses their arms, and another juror yawns. Another juror in the back row picks at their nails. Rachelle appears to be quite focused on this witness.

It's 10:35 am and most jurors are not taking notes. A juror in the back row crosses their arms too, and a different juror yawns, too. 10:40 am, Brunon arrives and sits in the front row. Another juror yawns. It's becoming contagious. Another juror sits back in their chair with, what appears to me to be an "I can't believe what I'm hearing," expression on their face. Another juror is stretching their left arm over their head and back behind their neck and resting on it. Another juror has a squinted expression on their face and almost looks like they've compressed their facial muscles. I get really bored with this testimony and put my notebook away for a moment. I then take it out again to note that the well known Jamie Floyd from Court TV is in the back row. Finally, the morning break is called and I escape the boredom to stretch my legs.

Back inside the courtroom, I see that the salt and pepper, barrel chested man is here in court again sitting with the defense. Out in the hallway I chat with Louis Spector and his long time companion. I observe Spector get introduced to Dr. Leestma. Pat Jackson, one of the court's public liaison officers, and I chat about the two temperatures in courtroom 106: uncomfortable and unbelievably uncomfortable. A man with an British sounding voice enters and sits in the back row. We are waiting for the jurors to take their seats and one juror is late and the rest of the jurors smile and have a bit of laughter at their compatriot.

Jackson gets up to conduct the cross of Dr. Leestma.

Dr. Leestma was contacted by the defense about ten days to two weeks ago. He's not sure of the exact date. One defense expert Dr. Michael Baden contact him, and later, he had a conversation with Dr. Werner Spitz. Afterwards, he was contacted by one of the defense attorneys, Linda Kenny Baden. He also had another consultation with Chris Plourd. There were a bunch of emails, telephone calls and more emails. Leestma believes the emails were specific to travel arrangements, and not surprisingly, he didn't take any notes at all during his interviews. We find out that it wasn't until yesterday, around 3:00 pm that Jackson is given the opportunity to talk to Dr. Leetstma on the phone, and Chris Plourd was in the room when that conversation took place.

Regarding the videos that Dr. Leestma mentioned, Jackson gets the witness to admit that not one of those videos shown at conferences duplicate this case, where the victim had a complete transection of the spine. Leestma states that the "body twitchings" are all broken down into fractions of a second. The action would be withing a fraction of a second. The guy with the white hair arrives and sits on the defense side. In his cross, Jacksn focuses on Lana's thighs and even though her legs might be under her, he gets Leestma to agree that her thighs are in basically the same position. Here thighs would be exposed, regardless. More trial watchers enter the room. The nuropathologist now backtracks his testimony, and denies that the decerebrate posturing is instantaneous.

Q: Are there any more mistakes in your testimony?

A: I don't know. Maybe you'll point them out.

Now the doctor hedges his bets and says that it could be three, four, or even five seconds when the decerebrate posturing could occur. The image of Lana in the chair is still up on the Elmo. No one has taken it down. Donna and Fawn are turned away from the screen, and Donna holds a tissue in her hand. Now the witness must have had a blackout on the stand earlier, because he testifies that he doesn't remember saying that it was instantaneously. He doesn't remember saying that on the phone when Jackson spoke to him yesterday, and adds, "You're talking about memories I don't have." Geez doc, I'm so surprised you went into the specialty of NUROpathology!

Q: Would you agree that the best evidence of where that expiration exparate matter went is where it was found?

A: Well, yes.

(Duh!) When Jackson asks where are there accounts of decerabrate rigidity in the medical literature, the witness states that they date back to the French Revolution, where bodies were observed moving "hours later" after death. Wow. I didn't realize that while the French were kicking out their kings and beheading their queens, they were also doing modern scientific experiments on decerebrate posturing and rigidity. Now AJ is trying to describe his demonstration of very shallow breaths, and he's telling the Judge he's having difficulty. The Judge says, "I would say an exhausted chiwowa." And the entire courtroom erupts in laughter at the Judge's description of a short, panting like breath. It was really funny. Leestma won't even go near commenting on gravity being the logical explanation for Dr. Pena finding blood in the alveola. Jackson is finished, and Plourd gets up to redirect by starting with the cough.

Judge Fidler calls the lunch break. In the cafeteria, Dominick gets accosted by K to meet for lunch. He said he promised her so he can't get out of it. I sit with Louis and his companion not far away and we amusedly make commentary on what we observe. Louis brought his portfolio of paintings with him, and I'm in awe of the talent he has as a painter. He needs to be in a gallery. He's that good. There is a very apparent common theme of loneliness that speaks out to you with each image. I'm very thankful that he brought his work to court so that Dominick and I can experience his talent as an artist.

Back on the 9th floor in the courtroom, Steven makes it to the afternoon session. Outside the presence of the jury, the prosecution and defense present arguments as to whether or not Devra Robitalle can testify as part of the prosecution's rebuttal case, and the Judge rules that the prosecution can call this witness. In the gallery, Dominick and I are pleased about this ruling.

At 1:50 pm the jury is finally called in and testimony resumes. We are back now on the prosecutions rebuttal case. This is rebuttal witness #5, and the 69th witness overall in the trial. It's Pauline Rosenfield, and she is a the Hospital Care Coordinator, of the Mobile Intensive Care Nurse Unit at Cedars Sinai Hospital. She has been a registered nurse for over 30 years. This unit is responsible for coordinating care between paramedics and emergency room personnel. Nurses learn how to coordinate care with paramedics in the field. This is a specialty within nursing, and is not a job that is performed by just any nurse who happens to be available. These nurses are especially certified, and they have a special assigned number that designates that certification. The form that they use in the hospital to document the call from the paramedics in the field, will reference via a case number the 902M form the paramedics use that contains the patient name.

The form is a County form that all "Base Hospitals" use. The call that came in was a radio transmission, and Rosenfeld explains that "BR" on the form means "blunt fracture." 2:10 pm, the little wife suddenly leaves the courtroom. I write this note to Dominick: Morning sickness? Resenfeld explains that she scored high on the level of alertness/consciousness scale, a 4-6-5 = 15. The patient was "completely awake, alert and oriented." The white haired guy leaves the courtroom. One o the jurors sneaks a snack (or a candy) into their mouth. The prosecution plays a tape for her to answer a question. And on the recording, we can hear Lana's voice in the background again, "Oooowwwwweeee!" Mrs. Spector reenters the courtroom at 2:20 pm.

Rosen steps up to cross this witness. Rosen makes an attempt at a joke. He say that the witness and he have the same last name, she just has a few more letters in her name than he does. No one in the courtroom laughs. Steven gives me looks again on Rosen's cross and I cover my face with my notebook not to laugh.

Q: You're not a paramedic are you?

A: No.

Q: You're not a doctor?

A: No.

Q: Do you know Bruce LIverpool?

A: No

Q: Do you know Mr Stark?

A: No.

Rosen is now crossing the witness on the qualifications of Nurse Lovitt and her employment at Cedars. Then Rosen switches to Rosenfled's qualifications and her formal training, and was she in the same position now back in 2001. In 2001 she states she wasn't the pre hospital care coordinator. She started in that job in 2002. Nurse Lovitt wasn't working under her back in 2001. This is a total WASTE OF TIME. Why couldn't the defense stipulate to all of this? Rosenfeld testifies that an emloyee of the Fire Dept. contacted her back in 2001 to get a copy of the tape recording of the emergency call. Again, I think this is a total waste of time.

To me, the jury looks disgusted with all these stupid questions with the witness, about when she talked to Pat Dixon and who was in the room and that it was in his office. There's a snide comment about the messiness of the DA's office. The jury, what can I say. They appear to be bored to tears. They fidget. They yawn. Rod Lindblom turns to give Ciaran a look. He can't believe it either. Rachelle covers her mouth with a huge yawn. Rosen is going on now that "It's not a 100% foolproof system. You've found forms with mistakes, correct?" Rosenfeld answers, "Yes."

Q: The hospital form doesn't have the paramedics name on it? Nurse Levitt only recorded what she was told?

A: Correct.

The witness tries to explain that paramedics are their (the ER) eyes and ears in the field, but Rosen comes back with, "Oh, but they make mistakes!" Lets talk about the huge blunders this blind leading the blind defense team has made, huh, Roger? Rosen wants to play a section of tape again. Rosen acts like he's uncovering a big conspiracy. We hear the tape again. "She denies any alcohol consumption at this time. She is, uh, does not appear to be under any influence."

Uh...PUHLEEZE! We all exchange eye rolls and tiny head shakes about this riveting line of questioning. The break is finally called. What a relief. At the break, Sandi Gibbons lets me know that the prosecution's exhibit clerk is called "Sudi," so I finally have her name correct on the blog. She also tells me who the tall slender man is whom I've seen in court almost every day. It's Richard Doyle, Director of Special Operations: Major Crimes. Sandi tells me that they recently renamed his department, but she just can't think of the new title at the moment, but that is the prior name of the unit.

All the reporters are up in arms about this visit fiasco, and that's the topic that is whispered about. Break is over, and Rosen continues his cross. The press is handed copies of Pie's letter and the photographs that came with it, and Dominick starts reading his. Mrs. Clarkson sees what is handed out, and appears upset about something in the printout the press was handed. (I later find out it's because the Pie included something from the memorial, that she did not write and didn't have permission to include in her Christmas Cards.) There is a sidebar as Rosen tries to bring in a document. The jurors whisper among themselves. Jurors snicker and laugh, and look on out at the gallery. They periodically change their focus to the Judge and attorneys at the bench. The gallery is actually pretty quiet now. Scratch that. It livens up a bit again. Maybe they are arguing over her actual medical records? Yep. They brought in actual records.

Rosen finally gets in his bombshell. "Significant for migraine headache and some depression. From the victim herself, when giving the ER doctor some medical history/information. And that's it Rosen is done, looking like he just uncovered the biggest conspiracy since Spitz worked on the JFK assassination. Dixon gets up to redirect his witness.

Q: You have no idea how Ms. Clarkson defined social drinking?

A: No, I don't.

Finally the witness is excused and we are done for the day. I rush out to catch the train and totally miss a little confrontation in the hallway between Roger Rosen and John Spano. However, CCA was there to report on the exchange