Friday, August 15, 2008

Phil Spector Pretrial Hearing August 14th, 2008, Kazuhoshi Miura, Cameron Brown and Dominick Dunne

With so much going on in the Sprocket household these days, I decided to drive into downtown LA for Spector's pretrial hearing so I could get back home, faster. I was hoping that I might run into Dr. C. Carroll Adams for an update on what's happening in the Cameron Brown case and as luck would have it, Dr. Adams was in the hallway on the 9th floor, waiting for Judge Pastor's courtroom to open at 1:30. He is currently watching a retrial of a case he first started watching at the end of Spector 1. He could not talk about it above a whisper at all (I barely heard what he said), since jurors from that trial were in the hallway all around us.

Dr. Adams mentioned that Spector's defense team was at the courthouse yesterday, appearing before Judge Perry in Dept 104. This had to do with the double jeopardy issue and the motion for an "indefinite stay" in Spector's trial that the Associated Press reported on yesterday.

We talked a bit about this motion for an indefinite stay filed by Spector's defense team. I will explain it a bit here since I've received a few emails and comments on the blog about the "double jeopardy" motion filed by the defense and people are confused about it. First, you need to read the defense's motion , titled "DEFENDANT'S NOTICE OF MOTION IN LIMINE, BASED ON PLEA OF ONCE IN JEOPARDY, FOR ORDER PRECLUDING THE PROSECUTION FROM DISCUSSING IN ITS OPENING STATEMENT, INTRODUCING EVIDENCE OF, MAKING CLOSING ARGUMENTS ON, OR SEEKING INSTRUCTIONS ON ANY LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE OF THE CHARGED CRIMES OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER." It's available on the LA County Court's website, here. After that, I recommend reading the prosecution's response to that motion here, on T&T. I did not copy the entire document and the Court's website has not yet uploaded a copy of the document.

At the end of Spector 1, once both parties rested and the jury instructions were hammered out. (Do you remember that torturous process?) At that time, the Court ruled that since no party presented a theory that would support a lesser included charge (manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter), then the jury would not receive any instruction to consider lesser included. They were only given the option of second degree murder or not guilty. The defense is now trying to say that since the Court instructed that in the first trial, that amounts to an "acquittal" of a lesser charge of manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. Consequently, because of that ruling, the prosecution should be prohibited from being able to present any arguments for lesser included charges in their case in the retrial, because if they did, that would be "double jeopardy" for those lesser charges.

On July 29th, the motions mentioned above were argued before Judge Fidler. At that hearing, Fidler stated that he would not rule on the defense motion at this time because it's too early. The Court does not know what the evidence will show. He would not make a ruling. There is no decision on this yet because the trial evidence has not been presented to a jury. However, the defense went before another judge requesting an "indefinite stay" so they will have ample time to "appeal" this issue. The problem is, there is no ruling to appeal. Fidler hasn't ruled on their initial motion. My thoughts are (and one reporter I spoke to agreed with me) that this stay will fail because how can one appeal a nonexistent ruling? Here is what I think is happening: Spector is trying to delay the trial by any means possible and Riordan and Weinberg are just following Spector's marching orders. If Riordan is half the appellate attorney he thinks he is, he knows this latest stunt will not fly.

The Cameron Brown case, Dr. Adams tells me that the trial has been delayed until sometime in early October. He did not have an exact date for me in his notes. Geragos is off the case and Pat Harris has officially taken over as lead counsel. According to Dr. Adams, apparently, Geragos has not been paid and that appears to be the main reason he's no longer representing Brown. The next pretrial hearing in that case is scheduled for September 5th, and the count reset to 0-45 from that date. From what Dr. Adams told me, Harris is currently in trial on another case and that is delaying the Brown case. At the last hearing it was agreed by both parties and the Court that Harris doesn't have to appear on September 5th; someone can stand up for him. I won't be attending that hearing but thought I would report on the new dates for those who are interested.

While I'm talking to Dr. Adams, Allan Parachini arrived and so did the AP reporter and another reporter whom I don't know. They are chatting away about the Miura hearing tomorrow in Torrance. Almost at the same time, Ciaran shows up as well as Robin and Sherri. It's about 1:25 pm and Courtroom 106 isn't open yet. There is a cameraman talking to Allan, and for a moment I think he's going to cover the proceeding but then he says his goodbye's to Allan and the other reporter's and takes off. There will be no video coverage or photos of today's rulings. Two distinguished gentlemen arrive and stand near the end of the hall. I get the feeling they are from the DA's office because they are not carrying briefcases but I don't know for sure.

Weinberg arrives without Riordan. Spector has waived his right to appear which means Rachelle Short, the trial bride has missed another photo op. Weinberg comes up and shakes hands with the AP reporter and says hello to the group of reporters. A few minutes later the prosecution team arrives. It's Alan Jackson, Truc Do, Ric Ocampo and a few others I don't recognize. The team greets the reporters and walk past them to shake hands with the gentlemen who arrived earlier and are standing a bit behind the press. I didn't see Sandi Gibbons walk up but she's here. The courtroom is finally opened and everyone slowly files in. Once inside the courtroom a familiar face who was at the prosecution table operating the Elmo shows up and says hello to everyone. She takes a seat on the "defense" side of the room. If I'm recalling correctly, I believe her name is Sudi.

The man I don't recognize with the prosecution team sits directly in front of me beside Ric Ocampo. I'm in the second row, about two seats in, leaving plenty of room for the AP reporter who likes to sit on the end of that row. The reporter is right there ready to sit down and I think I mention to Sherri or Robin that this is where the AP reporter likes to sit. she smiles and I tell her, "That is your reserved seat." Sherri and Robin sit in the row behind me. The AP reporter is kind enough to update me on Dominick Dunne. I knew that the surgery was cancelled but I didn't know that the book he is currently working on is his memoirs. I thought he was still working on finishing his last Bailey book. The AP reporter said that he went to the Dominican Republic for stem cell treatments. While he was there, a big party was thrown for him. He may go back and get another round of treatments there. That's just like Dominick to have a great time in the midst of his health issues. I said to the reporter, "Dominick has so much to offer the world. It would be so sad if he's not with us much longer." Please go to Dominick's Diary page, and leave him some positive thoughts towards a swift recovery. You could also send him a card, care of Vanity Fair and it will get to him.

Jackson and Truc Do are at the prosecution table, and Jackson is speaking to the reporter I don't know, who is sitting beside Ciaran. Jackson and the reporter exchange a few words about the Miura hearing in Torrance tomorrow, where Jackson will be presenting arguments to continue the extradition of Miura to the US. Jackson then looks over at me and asks how I'm doing. I don't hear his question clearly, and I think he's asking about Mr. Sprocket (but I realize how could he know about his injured arm) and then I think I hear the words carpal tunnel. I don't know why but I'm embarrassed. He's asking about my writing at the keyboard. I'm a little befuddled because I'm now wondering if he is referring to all my typing of recreating the prosecution's motions for the blog, but I'm also wondering if he was referring to the fact that I don't have my laptop with me. I smile and say I'm fine.

As I look around the courtroom, I see Pat Dixon in the third row, way off to my left. He's busy studying a small section of newspaper. Jackson, Truc and Weinberg all go into Judge Fidler's chambers and are there for a few minutes and after they exit, court is called into session.

Fidler states that since the people have presented two motions they should go first. Jackson starts off by mentioning something about a filing that the defense made that ". . . purports to be a declaration, but it's not a declaration. It doesn't establish any evidence or facts...but it does state argument...." Since I don't know what document he is referring to, I'm immediately lost. I then regain my footing just a tad. It has something to do with the defense making a statement, something to the effect of, the Court has ruled the PBA witnesses could not testify. That didn't make any sense because they were admitted, but maybe the defense motion is about the one's who were excluded. I'm lost again.

Jackson then moves on to present the argument of his motion to admit all 12 PBA's, and his argument is the Doctrine of Chances and the Doctrine of Corroboration.

AJ: "1101(b) doesn't require that level of recipe, that all 1101(b)'s are on a date . . . the defense said this is not consistent because it's not similar enough . . . they are relying on a civil case, Bowen, and not a criminal law case." Jackson explains the case, and says that the Court ruled correctly in that case to exclude all eight PBA's. "(In this case here) . . . in every one of our incidents, the exact same weapon was used . . . that distinguishes our case from Bowen . . . a single common marker . . . and in our case. . ."

Weinberg then stands up to interrupt Jackson. He's objecting to Jackson's motion. He's upset that Jackson is arguing a motion that they did not have time to respond to. That in the last hearing, time lines were agreed upon as to when motions would be filed. The prosecution was supposed to file by August 8th, and they filed this motion they are arguing on August 11th. And, the prosecution has not responded to their motions about the PBA's or Kemper. It's Weinber's understanding that this was all agreed to in the last hearing. You can tell he's quite perturbed that the prosecution has not followed the agreed upon filing dates, and has not made any formal response to their motions.

Weinberg is upset about the prosecution's latest motion to admit the PBA's under a new theory, the Doctrine of Chances and the Doctrine of Corroboration. . . these are totally contrary to what where the Court ruled in the first trial, that the PBA's needed to be linked by motive. "What the Court said is motive. The Curt identified that as the basis . . . no way that this evidence flies as motive . . . they are trying to do exactly what you told them not to do.

Jackson steps away from the podium and sits down. Weinberg continues: "There's no response (from the prosecution) to the "motive" motion (they filed) . . . Riordan is not here today to brief it, and there are no motions in reply."

Judge Fidler then says, "This is a new trial. I'm not bound by any of that. I'm not bound by anything in the first trial." He goes onto explain that we are starting fresh here. If a new argument is presented, a new theory for admitting evidence, he's obligated to consider it.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Dixon motioning Ocampo in the first row to come over to where he is sitting.

Jackson gets up and explains to the Court that, "We didn't respond because our thought is, we didn't think it was necessary. We thought it was ridiculous. We felt we didn't need to (respond)."

Jackson goes onto explain that these arguments are all interconnected. We don't concede motive. We don't concede Kemper. We are seeking 12 witnesses.

Unfortunately it's not clear in my notes but I believe this next part is Weinberg speaking.

"They presented the Doctrine of Chances; the Doctrine of Corroboration . . . under that theory . . . our motion was to exclude this evidence on motive . . . our motive is that there simply is a misconstruction of motive of 1101(b). . . with Kemper . . . that was presented as a common scheme or plan, not motive."

Jackson leans over and whispers to Truc as Weinberg is speaking.

Weinberg goes onto say, "There are so many things wrong here. . . In order to add Kemper, they are suddenly changing their scheme . . ."

Jackson stands up and says, "Mr. Weinberg says he's not prepared . . . not prepared to argue Kemper. . . and then he argues Kemper . . . we could have saved several pages of Diane's transcription (the court reporter) . . . and the court's time . . ."

Judge Fidler finally says something to the effect of, that all these arguments should be addressed at one time and not in piecemeal. All parties agree to that and a new trial date is set for September 15th at 1:30 pm. The admissibility of Dr. Pena as a witness is brought up and whether or not that will be argued then but I believe the Court indicated that this would be held over until October 2-3, or right before trial starts.

And that's it. Court is over. The reporters are commenting a bit that there is no headline today. The AP reporter says that in a few days (I think next week) she's going to Vegas to cover the OJ trial, so she may or may not be here for the start of Spector. As we all slowly head toward the elevators, Weinberg answers a few questions off the record. As we wait for the elevator, I ask Mr. Weinberg if he is flying home this evening. Sherri, Robin and I ride the elevator down with him. He is polite to Sherri and Robin, asking who they are, what is their interest in the trial and making a correct guess that they are not here, "for" Spector. I had the devilish urge to introduce myself as, "the woman your client tried to get permanently removed from the courtroom in the first trial," but I censored myself and didn't say anything.

On the way back to the parking lot I gave donchais a call and tried to explain what happened today; basically nothing. I think both sides came to the hearing unprepared, but for different reasons. I have to say, it didn't appear to be a very good excuse that Jackson gave for not having filed any responses to Weinberg's motions. From what transpired, it looks like the prosecution is presenting an entirely different theory for Spector 2, as to why all the 12 1101(b) witnesses should be admitted into evidence. Whether Fidler will be swayed by their new arguments remains to be seen on September 15th.


Anonymous said...

Found this when looking for something else

Appeals court: Phil Spector's retrial can proceed

so that didn't take very long!


Sprocket said...

Thank you Liz!

I heard the decision come in while waiting for the Miura hearing to start in Torrance.