Thursday, October 23, 2008

While I Was Sleeping, 12 Jurors Seated in Spector Retrial


On Wednesday, right after the afternoon session started, I felt a huge wave of exhaustion come over me and I decided to go home and rest. When I woke up this morning I decided to stay home. When I finally looked at my google mail, I read a news report that the initial 12 jurors were selected and the six alternates were still to be chosen. I thought that there was a possibility that they would finish selecting the alternates today so I got myself together and drove down to the courthouse.

At the afternoon break today, AJ was kind enough to explain to me how many exemplary [premptory] challenges each side has for choosing a jury and how that's decided. It's based on the charge, so for this case each side gets 20 for the 12 jurors. Once they are seated each side gets 1 for however many alternates are seated. There will be six alternates so they will each get six challenges. There are an unlimited number of challenges for "cause."

Court resumes on Monday morning at 9:30 am where counsel will continue with the selection process for the six alternates. I'll add more to this story later tonight to complete my notes for Tuesday, Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon, so please keep checking back for more detailed trial coverage.

The LA Times is reporting that opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday next week.

Update: (unedited)
When I last left off on Tuesday's coverage, Wendy had just told Spector's bodyguard to remove his hat and Truc Do had just stepped up to the podium to intervew this new group of prospective jurors.

I have seen Truc in action at a few of the pretrial hearings, present motions to the court. She is a tall, slender, fine boned woman of Asian descent. Her jet black hair is cut short and comes down at a slant in front that compliments her jawline. As she proceeds with questioning, to me, it appears that she connects well with the jurors.

Juror #15 states that he's never heard of Spector. Do asks him, "For whatever reason, the media have put this case in a celebrity status. You said on your questionnaire you think celebrities get away with crimes. "It happens," he replies. "Britney Spears was late a few times and there were no consequences. For an average person there would be."

Do asks the new group, "Does anyone here think that celebrities have access to better legal representation?"

At 3:15 Pat Dixon enters and a clerk from the DA's office gives up their seat for Pat. Truc asks the new jurors in a general way a bit about the laws and if the burden of proof should be the same for "regular people. "Does anyone believe that because we're county employees and we don't get paid that much, do you think that because if they're paid more [defense], they're better qualified?

Juror #18 answers yes, Ms. Do says, "Oh no!" with a laughing tone and the courtroom erupts in laughter, too.

Juror #2 elaborates on an abusive relationship she was in during her teen years.

Juror #5 talks about a bias they have and Ms. Do says, "Thank you for your honestly and candor."

Juror #6 talks about a trial they served on that involved domestic violence. He thought the jury could not reach a verdict because of some unreasonable jurors on the panel. He has a BA in biology but did not pursue a career that utilized it. "How did you feel about being a foreperson?" "It was a big responsibility." He was elected both times he served. He visited the castle in '73, long before Spector owned it. The juror then claims a privacy issue and everyone approaches the bench to discuss it.

Three young looking observers enter the courtroom and sit in the seats beside me and in the row in front. One is deaf and and another one, a woman, is signing to a young man. Later, when the questioning resumes away from the bench she turns her chair around in the chair row in front of me to face him and sign the dialog she is hearing.

All this time the inner doors were left open and the bailiff finally closes them. 3:32 they are finally finished with the sidebar.

Juror #18. His brother went through some altercation with LE but I could not hear the gist of it. AJ and Truc confer. The sign language interpreter is starting to get distracting to me.

Juror #5 is excused for cause and a new number is called: 163. This guy is very interesting looking. I'm reminded of some of the rough around the edges motorcycle types I used to ride with in my twenties. (My favorite bike back then was my '68 BMW R60/2 with an EARLS front end. I still miss it.) Weinberg steps up to the podium to interview him. From his questionnaire, his wife works for an investment group as a secretary. At one point, he was charged with assault. He was the one initially assaulted but he was the one who ended up arrested. Him and his son. The judge eventually ruled that both parties were to stay away from each other. "Was it a satisfying result?" Weinberg asks. "It lasted a long time!!" "Any feeling that came from that....?" Weinberg presses on. "I believe in the jury system," he answers. "The police sometimes tend to make snap decisions." He had heard of the prior trial but he didn't follow it. "Did you have an opinion at the end?" Weinberg questions. "I didn't know the specifics of the trial." He had no feeling about it one way or another.

My notes are not clear here, but I believe he follows local city politics [possibly on the Internet]. He doesn't read anything about celebrities or crime. He did say on his questionnaire that it's more important that an innocent person not get convicted.

Truc steps up to question next. He reveals that he performs maintenance at UCLA on HVAC systems. He indicates that he's "...Okay with DNA. That means I believe it's a true science and it's valid." The blogs he follows are "news sources" and he doesn't read about trials. The assault charge against him and his son was dropped. "The system worked?" Do asks. "To an extent... I was happy in the terms of [it] going away." He explains the event. The LAPD refused to investigate and he had to hire his own investigator. From that, he formed an opinion about their professionalism.

No more jurors are excused from this last group for cause, and the peremptory strikes start. (I wrote about this at the end of my second entry.) After six of the panel are excuse, all the alternates take their place. The room of jurors are ordered back at 9:15 am tomorrow and I head down to courtroom 102 to drop in on Steve Mikulan from the LA Weekly covering the Anand Jon Alexander rape trial. When I get down there, the courtroom is sort of on a break with jurors out of the room and Steven introduces me as "Sprocket" to a reporter from a paper with an online presence called "India West."

More to come, tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm up to date now! LOL! Thank you so much for your continued coverage of this (and other) trials! Hopefully all will go well and the alternates will be picked Monday and the trial will start on Wednesday as scheduled.

Rest up this weekend. Your in for a busy next few weeks (or months!)

Kitty M.

katiecoo said...

Hi Betsy! Had no idea this retrial was starting...sure hope they get him this time. Was thinking of you earlier today as I just set up at a craft fair for the next two days...not sure how it will go but wish me luck! ;) Will be following this trial via your blog....

Katie(coolady) :)

Fallen Angel said...

I can not belive TruTv's not showing this trial. Thank you Sprocket

Sprocket said...

Hi Katiecoolady! Nice to hear from you. I wish you the best at the craft show; they are brutal to do so my thoughts will be with you this weekend.

Drop me an email at
sprocket.trials (at)
when you have time and let me know how it went.

Mindy said...

You got to sleep and get some rest for this round of Spector, least Fridays are dark again. I just love reading your updates on this trial. I feel like I'm so invested in it, because I watched the first one so closely, it became a part of my everyday life and lasted so long. I look forward to your reports on this and enjoy reading what you have to say everyday.

Tezi said...

Thank you Sprocket for the great update. Hopefully, this trial will move along, and Harvey will be convicted this time around!!!!!!!!

Mary Lou said...

So glad you are doing this and I love the way you write! Wondering about your opinion of this jury so far. From some of your earlier notes I'm concerned about whether some of this jury is capable of understanding the importance and weight of circumstantial evidence. They just could not seem to grasp it! I hope I am wrong about that.

Sprocket said...

Hello everyone.

I did miss Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning of jury selection. When I came in Thursday afternoon, several of the panel who were alternates when I left are now part of seated jurors.

Many of the 1-12 I did not hear them answer the attorneys questions. I'm still kinda bummed I missed that much of jury selection because it is such an important part of the trial.

As we saw in round one, the trial can be won or lost just on jury selection.

I should also note this. I am also not sitting as close to the jury as I was during the first trial. I am sitting in the farthest away seat from the jury there is. Back against the wall, right beside the inner courtroom doors.

Often times, the bailiff has not gotten up to close these doors, after they have been locked in the open position so the jury can quickly enter the courtroom. Any noise from the 9th floor hallway that might seep in from the outer set of doors makes it harder for me to hear.

I also doubt that I will be able to keep up this level of detail for long if I am going to report on the trial every day, so please be aware of that.

Mary Lou said...

Im sure we can all imagaine how difficult it must be and we appreciate what you're doing and are grateful for any information you share.

shari said...

LUV YA SPROCKET!!!!!Would also be interested in your "gut felings" on all the people involved since we cannot actually see what you are seeing. Your descriptions are superb.

Anonymous said...

Peremptory challenges, doll, not "exemplary". Peremptory meaning arbitrary, without having to give a reason, kind of like the queen yelling "off with his head".

My background guarantees that no defense attorney will ever seat me, but I always take great satisfaction in forcing them to use up a peremptory to get rid of me.

Sprocket said...

{{{Thank you}}} anon @ 11:02 pm. I've received several emails on this, pointing out my error. I've been working on trying to get all my trial notes up on the blog and procrastinated correcting the word. It's fixed now.

I might go to bed soon, and put the new entry up half finished since I have a client at 9:30 am.