Monday, October 20, 2008

Phil Spector Retrial: Day One of Jury Selection

Back in 2007, after the pretrial hearing where Judge Fidler ruled that cameras would be allowed in the courtroom, I asked Allan Parachini if the general public would be allowed to observe jury selection. He replied something to the effect that it would not be open to the public. So, I did not try to attend.

I later learned that the accredited press were allowed in after some seats opened up. So that's what I decided to do for the retrial. I would go and see if I could get a seat for any part of voir dire. When I rounded the corner on the 9th floor Dr. Carroll Adams was waiting at the end of the hall. It was so nice to see him.

Dr. Adams got me caught up on a case he is following in 107. It’s the retrial of Gary Glazier. Glazier is charged with arson of an occupied building, attempted burglary of an occupied building and illegal possession of a flammable substance. This case has a seated jury and opening statements are set to begin today.

Glazier is the uncle of Patty Glazier, law partner of Terri Christensen, who was recently on trial in Federal Court along with the infamous Anthony Pellicano for wiretapping. Dr. Adams said, “Ms. Glazier did such a great job in Christensen’s defense he got five years . . . instead of eighteen months.” Robert Shapiro is also on the defense team. The same Robert Shapiro who wrote a motion in the very early stages of Spector’s case wherein he stated, “We found something you missed.” I’ll never forget being in the courtroom during Spector 1 when Beth Karas showed me and Dominick Dunne the motion that then CourtTV staff had found, that was filed in the Alhambra courthouse long before the case was transferred to downtown Los Angeles.

But back to the case in 107. Dr. Adams said that in the afternoon session on Thursday, Robert Shapiro brought up an issue to the court that Juror #8 was seen in the courtroom cafeteria having a discussion over lunch with a web design specialist, who just happened to be the same individual that masterminded Robert Shapiro’s web site, “” While we were waiting, Juror #8 was called into Pastor’s courtroom. Later, at the lunch break, Dr. Adams told me that she was kicked off the jury because it was revealed that she also had a meeting with the same individual on Saturday. Apparently, this juror was about 30 seconds from being found in contempt and spending several days in jail.

This is funny news that Dr. Adams shared that I just “have” to tell you. Robert Shapiro is going into the women’s dress shoe business. Yep. He is developing a web site where women can pay a small fee to join his shoe club and for $29.95 a pair or some such low cost, buy knock off's of Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, and other high end designers that will be shipped out of a warehouse in Ontario. According to Dr. Adams, the warehouse still needs to be stocked with inventory.

At 8:29 am the Aeron chairs that the prosecution used for Spector 1 were delivered to courtroom 106, and a minute later Dr. Adams entered Pastor’s courtroom.

I wait and wait and wait as the hallway slowly fills up with jurors.

At 9:19 am, Doron Weinberg arrives alone with a bottle blond assistant dressed in all black. She looks eerily like the assistant Jennifer, from New York in the first trial, who sat in the same chair at the end of the defense table and handled all the defense exhibits.

The associate attorney, Susan (I don’t have her last name yet), arrives in the hallway and hits the ladies room. Jurors for 106 stand around and chat. Then AJ and Truc Do enter with several other people. AJ is focused on something else and he doesn’t see me at the end of the hall. I get the courage up to address him and say, “Good morning Mr. Jackson.” He sees me, gets a big smile on his face and says, “Good morning! How are you?” I smile right back.

Susan exits the restroom and heads into 106, and here come the happy couple and their bodyguards. Everyone in the entourage is dressed in black; Phil, the Trial Bride, and his two jet black bodyguards from the hood, one of them the size of at least two NFL linebackers. Spector is wearing the diamond dragon pin on his lapel again and a bright red tie. As you can see in this photo in the LA Times, from a few weeks ago, it appears as if his face lift has fallen and he's all wrinkled again. He tries to stare me down when he passes by, but I barely give him a glance. In the latest photo in the LA Times, the Trial Bride looks like she might be trying to channel Malibu Barbie. Her hair is dyed completely blonde now and she wore it “up” by holding it together in the back by a plastic claw like clip. It’s actually the most flattering way she can wear her hair. Every other style I’ve seen her try looks terrible.

Right after Spector, Pat Kelly from the Public Information Office (PIO) makes her way down the hall. I peek into 106 and see there are five chairs lined up behind the prosecution table and several of the people who were with AJ and Truc are sitting there. Terri Keith from City News arrives and since she is the first accredited reporter to arrive, Pat tells her that Fidler approved a single pool seat for the press. Linda Deutsch isn’t here and is probably covering other news.

Out in the hallway, Fidler’s clerk Wendy is addressing 106 jurors and takes roll by calling their last three digit juror number. Earlier, the clerk for courtroom 107 called roll for her court and she called out their real names. Fidler had ruled earlier that even the court would not know the names of the jurors to further protect their privacy.

At first, there are five people missing, but then three of them show up. They can’t get started until all the jurors are there. One of the jurors asks Wendy, “What if you don’t show up?” Wendy explains that there is a warrant issued and a hearing is held to explain “why” you didn't show up for jury duty. The final result could be a fine and/or jail time.

Another reporter shows up and later I find out that this is Greg Risling from the Associated Press. I’m surprised that Harriet Ryan isn’t here. I’ve been told by many accredited reporters that the jury selection process is the most important part of the trial.

The large group of jurors is getting impatient. They are waiting for one more juror to still show up because Wendy tells them they can't get started without this juror. I’m not surprised but I note that neither the Clarkson family or their attorneys are here.

Wendy calls the first 18 jurors to line up, quickly calling out the three digits of their juror number. “Lucky juror #1!” And so on down the line. Afterwards, she said, “I feel like I’m at the bingo parlor.” And many in the crowd chuckle.

At 10:30 am, the missing potential juror finally arrives and she gets a patient lecture from Wendy that she “must” call the court if she is going to be late. Wendy goes into the courtroom and comes back out and apologizes but explains that there is a discussion going on right now.

When I hear that, I realize that they must be arguing a motion, so I step into the little ante room right before the courtroom to listen. Pat gets up from her seat and shows me her only copy of the last minute defense motion that was filed. Fidler had ruled on Thursday that Vincent Tannazzo would again be allowed to testify to inflammatory statements he heard Spector make about women during two Christmas parties held by Joan Rivers. In this latest motion, Spector’s defense team is trying to get the Judge to “sanitize” Spector’s statements he made those many years ago by eliminating the “C” word. Fidler denies the motion and the word will come into trial.

Wendy gets up and asks me to take a seat in the courtroom so she can easily get to the jurors if they try to enter. I take a seat and start scribbling notes. Fidler goes on to tell the attorneys that cause challenges will be settled at the bench. Jurors may claim privacy for issues but he will decide on whether or not they are valid. If he does accept the privacy issue then we will come to the bench. While I’m sitting there, I see Steve Mikulan from the LA Weekly standing in the little room area and I give him a quick nod hello. As fast as he entered, he was gone.

Judge Fidler wants to make sure he has the names and the pronunciation correct of the various people at the defense table representing Spector. Mattros. Barringer. I will have to check later for the correct spellings, and the first names of the people they go to. Richard Gabriel. This was the jury consultant Spector had at the first trial. It’s decided who else will be introduced to the jurors. Howard Varinski and Jennifer Merriman (sp?). I believe this is the jury consultant team the prosecution used last time, and at the lunch break, AJ verified this is the same team as last time.

Then everyone leaves the courtroom to make room for as many jurors as possible. All the reporters and assistants to the DA, the bodyguards, the Trial Bride file out into the hallway. There were 80 jurors called today and the courtroom maximum capacity is 80. It’s 10:46 am and all the potential jurors are squeezed into the courtroom.

Pat Kelly comes out and lets Greg from the AP know that the other reporter is ready to switch. When Terri comes out, she shares with us what she observed.

Judge Fidler instructed the jurors' why they were here. That an indictment had been handed down and the charge was second degree murder. He had Spector stand and face the jury so they could see him. Fidler goes on to instruct them as to their duty. The lengthy jury questionnaire was so that the attorneys could get to know them. He informed them that this case will garner “some” media attention but not nearly as much as the last trial.

Fidler talked about what they were looking for in a jury. “We are here to pick and impartial jury and not one with an agenda. The attorneys are both looking for a favorable jury to them. Fidler introduced the attorneys to the jurors. Terri got called off and may come back before noon to get briefed by the AP reporter.

I’m thinking that, if they do kick some jurors today, I may get in to observe a bit. At 11:11 am the jurors file out from 106 and enter the hallway. They are on their morning break. The Spector's leave the courtroom. The Trial Bride has her arm around Spector and it appears like she is holding him up. The bodyguards follow them. I note that there is a line of jurors out into the hallway for the ladies restroom.

At 11:33, Wendy calls the roll again. When the Spector's walk past me back into the courtroom, they are both laughing. The Trial Bride makes a point to laugh a little too long and a little too loud as she and Spector walk arm and arm into 106. For the second time today, Spector tries to stare me down when he passes me.

I get a seat in the courtroom in the back row. I’m sitting beside the huge bodyguard and I barely have room in my seat. I apologize to him for bumping him. Rachelle is on the other side of him and the other bodyguard is sitting next to Rachelle.

Fidler tells the jury that there will be media coverage, and that you are not to read or listen to anything pertaining to this case. Then Fidler starts with Juror #1 with his questions.

Did you complete the jury questionnaire?
Did you answer all the questions truthfully?
Is there anything you want to change?
Did you claim any privacy rights?
Do you think you can be fair to both sides?
Can you follow my instructions?

And down the line he goes with these same questions to every juror in the box.

When potential Juror #2 is asked if she can be fair to both sides, she hesitates answering and then says, “She doesn’t know.” We find out that this case has similarities to another case, a murder. It was her son.

Fidler responds to her and is sensitive to her situation.

Potential Juror #5 says he’s not sure he can be fair to both sides. I feel certain celebrities may have an advantage with certain attorneys they can afford. He mentions OJ, and Robert Blake and alludes to the verdict in Blake’s case.

Potential Juror #10 claims a privacy issue, and it has to do with her husband. Fidler asks her, “Is there anything about your husband’s employment that would cause you to be impartial?” She replies, “No.”

And it continues down the line with questions, a few jurors claiming privacy; one juror amended their statements to include that they owned a firearm.

Juror #18 stated, “I would have difficulty if the defendant didn’t testify. I would have a problem with that.”

And the morning session is almost over. Weinberg asks Fidler how voir dire will go. I’m surprised at his question. Doesn’t he know? Fidler informs him that the start of voir dire always goes to the defense and the prosecution has the first challenge. That’s the way it’s been in State court for the last 30 years.

I brought my lunch today, but I decide to not eat in the cafeteria. I want to avoid possibly sitting at the same table as jurors from 106. I walk over to the underground city and grab one of the many tables in the open patio area.

Cameron Brown
When I get back on the 9th floor a little before 1 pm, Dr. Adams is waiting at the end of the hallway. I ask him about the Cameron Brown trial and he digs through his notebooks until he finds his notes on Brown. Pat Harris is still the lead defense attorney and it’s not clear whether or not Geragos is still on the case. There originally was a pretrial hearing date of October 27th, but that had to be vacated and moved to November 18th because one of the attorneys could not make the 10-27 date. The clock was set at the last hearing to 0-60. Michael Baden and Cyril Wecht are slated to testify and NOT Werner Spitz. Somehow, the defense must think that Wecht ~who’s own trial ended in a hung jury~ will no longer have any restrictions on his travel by the time this case gets to trial. He is still out on bond from his last mistrial and supposedly is not allowed to leave his home state.

At the afternoon session I don’t get a seat. I wait for about 20 minutes then head down to courtroom 102 to listen in on the case that Seven Mikulan has been covering.

Just as I walk in the room and sit down, the defense attorney is asking one of it’s witnesses (apparently an Assistant District Attorney), whether or not the victim she interviewed had told her that the victim and the defendant had oral copulation or not. Yikes!

As soon as I can get some names verified with either the PIO or Steven, I’ll have to tell you about my visit in that courtroom at a later time.

When courtroom 102 goes on break, I head back to 106 and sit down beside Pat Kelly and she gives me a short update. They are expecting the case to take about three months. The court will follow the same procedure as last time of Fridays off. There will be three holidays in November. Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the day after Thanksgiving. They will also possibly take the week of Christmas off. Pat tells me they are not even close to excusing anyone yet and they will have a court schedule date for the jurors, soon. It’s unclear what they will do with the 35 extra jurors that are expected to show up Tuesday morning, since the current 80 (minus a few that were excused via letters from their doctors) fills the room completely and there are another 35 that will show up on Wednesday.

I head back to courtroom 102 for the next half hour. Right after 4 pm, I go back into the hallway. I see Spector at the end of the hall, hugging his biggest fan at the first trial. A woman who wears Hawaiian style shirts. I ask Terri if I can follow her into the elevator and get briefed on the afternoon session.

We go up to her office on the 18th floor. Terri tells me that most likely, she will not be back to the trial until a jury is selected and sworn in. No one has been kicked yet. After Weinberg questioned this group, AJ only questioned them for about 10 minutes and then the court day was over. Weinberg asked jurors about the “C” word and no one seemed particularly offended.

Potential Juror #6 said she would want to hear the defendant to see what he has to say.

Potential Juror #7 said that graphic photos would not be a concern for her. She had a strong feeling about guns but more concerned when it becomes an armory.

Potential Juror #10 thought that was very vulgar and descriptive language, but won’t affect her. Her husband is in law enforcement, and she has a high respect for LE. She would tend to believe a police officer over a citizen unless directed otherwise.

A few jurors have worked for law enforcement. Two for the Sheriff’s, one of them in the budget department. Another juror worked for the District Attorney in IT.

A few jurors stated that they think the defendant should testify. One juror said, “But if he doesn’t, it doesn’t sway my judgment.”

One juror stated that he did hear something about the first trial. From what he remembers it was about the fingernail. Another juror said they would like to see the defendant testify but wouldn’t hold it against him.

One juror stated they think people should have guns locked up. One juror did not know who Spector was.

AJ asked the juror who’s son was murdered, “Do you think this is the best case for you to be sitting on?” I don’t have it in my notes, but from what I remember Terri briefing me, I believe the juror stated she didn’t think it was.

And that’s all I have for notes. I debate in my head whether or not to come tomorrow, and I think I will try.

I called Mr. Sprocket that I would be at the North Hollywood Red Line Station in about 35-40 minutes.

Special thanks to John Ferguson for helping find some story links.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Sprocky! Wow! You report with such great detail. While reading this entry, I almost felt like I was right there in the court house with you! Thanks for sharing the details with us!

Kitty M.

ritanita said...

Sprocket! Thanks for the wonderful report. It seems that even sitting in the hallway in that courthouse could be a story in itself.

I'm happy that you're getting in to observe some of the voir dire. I enjoyed listening to potential jurors in the OJ case and with your reportage, I feel like I'm in the courtroom with you.

Anakerie said...

Thank you for the great report from the court house! Your descriptions made me feel like I was there with you!

katfish said...

Thanks for a great report Sprocket! So the little man trys to stare down the big bad blogger?
What's he trying to prove? You must get under his skin. LOL!
Any word on KTLA's coverage?

John said...

Kat-- KTLA has pulled out


ps. For those new to the scene, I had posted previous links on complete with the photos of bridezilla and PS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks SO much for your report from the court house!! As the others have said - it feels like we are there right with you!! I hope 'someone' covers this trial on TV - but I guess it's not looking too good - so am glad you are there for us!!

LOLing about Spector staring you down!!! Too much!!

Great reporting! Thanks again!


Mary said...

A busy day for you yesterday and lots of great information! I enjoy your writing style so much and not to reiterate but it's like being there with you!

Thanks for being our "eyes" and "ears" in the courtroom. All appreciate your hard work and dedication! You are loved by many!

John said...

Thanks for giving me special credit, Sprocket. I feel like the teacher's pet. Super considering I did pretty poorly in grade school. :)

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sprocket:

Sounds like Ms. Spector is carrying on a little too loudly and trying a little too hard to create an illusion that their marriage is happy and real.

Mr. Spector has disappointed me. I thought he was bright enough to finally realize what an oaf Ms. Spector is. If he is looking to make a wise impression, he should have kept her at home, attending to her nails, while he gets his NFL bodyguard to prop him up instead.

shari said...

WOW Sprocket, I am so impressed with your talent for doing this. I know you did it last time but hopefully this time we will get a different outcome. Can't believe the little troll is trying to stare you down. He really gets off on trying to intimidate everyone. What a caricature of a human being he is. Keep it up, we are all "lovin'" it. KUDOS!!!!!!

susanp said...

Is there going to be anyway to watch this trial?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sprocket!!! Great report. If I couldn't be there then your report is the closest thing, in some ways even better than court TV cameras.


Liz said...

Many thanks - great report as always