Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Three of Testimony

Prosecution Witnesses:

#2 Dorothy Melvin (testimony completed)

I make a 12:25 train which puts me downtown about five minutes to 1:00 pm. Up on the 9th floor, I see Dr. Adams and he catches me up on what happened in the Glaizer case. Convicted on all counts. Judge Pastor ruled that a psychological evaluation be performed on the convicted man.

At 1:15 pm I see the Spector's slowly arrive with their bodyguard. Since there isn't any media attention like what occurred in the first trial, the Spector's no longer have a sheriff's escort from the parking lot to the 9th floor via a freight elevator. They have to get to and from the 9th floor now with the general public. This does cause a bit of lingering in the hallway from those who don't wish to wait in the elevator bay with them or take the same elevator. Rachelle is wearing loose black pants with a white blouse. It has an over sized round collar and ruffles down the front. Over it she's wearing a form fitting deep blue knit sweater. I only got a glance at the sweater from behind so I don't know if it's a cardigan type sweater or not. Spector is wearing two tones flat shoes, a black suit, black shirt and a vibrant red tie.

When Spector realizes that the courtroom door is still locked they decide to go wait down at the other far end of the hall. Harriet Ryan arrives and I discuss with her what could be the possible defense strategy for bringing in the other uncharged acts that Melvin witnessed, specifically the ones the prosecution was instructed not to address. Linda Deutsch and Terri from Citi News are also in the hallway. The ladies I met at one of the pretrial hearings months ago, Robin and Sherri are back to observe the afternoon session.

1:31 pm I finally get inside the courtroom. There are a couple clerk type ladies who enter at various times today. One young woman sits on the defense side in the second row and chats with Rachelle Spector. The election results are the topic of the day inside and earlier outside in the hallway. The attorney who has been sitting off a ways to my left in the same row as me enters and speaks for a moment to Detective Tomlin. It finally clicked yesterday that this is Dorothy Melvin's attorney.

1:39 pm the prosecution team arrives and sets up their computers. I can always tell when Ms. Do turns on her computer, because it's a Mac and I hear the familiar sound it makes when it starts up. Dorothy's friend, Nancy B. is here and sitting off to my right between me and Linda Deutsch. I admire another of Truc Do's outfits. She's wearing a black pinstripe jacket with a white button down form fitting top. Her skirt is slightly long and has a two pleats in the back. I will have to agree with a reporter friend who commented that she's quite beautiful.

Dorothy Melvin's attorney speaks to AJ and Do for a few seconds inside the well area. At 1:40 pm Judge Fidler takes the bench.

The first order of business when court resumed at 1:40 pm in the afternoon today, was Judge Fidler's ruling on whether or not the defense committed a discovery violation in regards to investigation they did on Vincent Tannazzo. Were they required to turn over their own investigators notes, or not. Judge Fidler stated he reviewed every discovery violation case he could find, even those that were not on record ~which Fidler said he couldn't cite for his ruling~ and he mentions a case, I believe it's "Azaga" that he states, 54 Cal. 3rd., 356. Fidler then adds the footnote #17 on 377. And then he also states Hubbard vs. Superior Court. So, I'm not certain what the actual case is he's quoting from.

"Unless the defense decides to call the investigator, they are well within their right. Bottom line, I don't see a discovery violation, so no sanction will be made," Fidler rules.

Weinberg stands up and goes over his recollection of the events of Ms. Do asking about the documents. "I was asked about documents. I gave them things I didn't have to give them," he says. There's a bit more drama but I don't get it in my notes.

Ms. Do stands up and says something to the effect that she respects the court ruling, "...there is another case that I feel overrules Hubbard (it could be Hubbart). Unfortunately, I miss getting the case she cites.

There's a bit more dialog from Ms. Do that I only get snatches of that even reading back does't bring back any clarity to my notes. Sigh. The dialog was just too fast. "I think that's how I interpret the moral turpitude [...] We're required to return over and over [...] His own investigator turned over to him that he couldn't verify the validity of the private investigator's license [...]"

Weinberg then gets this, oh, how do I describe the tone, an equal mixture of indignant exasperation. "I'm trying very hard to control my anger with accusations of lying..." Weinberg continues to defend his position and brings up, once again, what he feels is the prosecution's violation of discovery regarding Dorothy Melvin, and her testifying to two Christmas party incidents at Joan Rivers' apartment.

Then he goes on to make another point. "The court made rulings... I think all manner of mischief has resulted from that rulings. The prosecution has come to the theory that when he [Spector] rages against [women, then he gets out of control]. " Weinberg raises the character issue yet again. "[The defense] is left with two untenable choices. Mr. Spector has five times in his life pulled a gun [...] that's the construct that they've [the prosecution] created [...] or we can address it [...] The reality is, that's not the real Phil Spector. It's the way he talks; it's the way most of Hollywood talks; it's not raging against women, it's how he talks. [..] No, the language isn't about hating women..."

Weinberg continues, "It's an artificial configuration [by the prosecution and] the only reason these things are coming out is that Phil Spector rages against...."

Judge Fidler: Are you conceding the witnesses credibility?

Weinberg: No I'm not conceding the witnesses credibility! The truth is, there are exaggerations and lies coming in here. That's an impossible position to be put in, so we have no choice but to address it. [...] We now know, we now know that the latest these incidents could have happened is 1991, 1992! [...] Now we have Dorothy Melvin come in and [...] There's nothing else in the record to support these statements!"

Weinberg goes on and on and on. It makes it a bit clearer to me now, why Weinberg has brought in the other incidents that Melvin told investigators, and that Judge Fidler ruled on prior occasions during the first trial that the prosecution could not ask her about. Weinberg will call into question her recollection about everything she testified to. Basically, why did you recall this event but not tell investigators about the second event. He's going to try to paint her as a liar and that these events are not as you described because your testimony has changed.

Weinberg says, "She got on the stand and said she talked to so many investigators! [She said,] I know I talked to them about it! [...] I know I've said it before and I said it to LE! [...] Si if so, there's a major discovery violation! Otherwise, she's lying! [...] I've told them about this! I've told them about this. (This sounds like Weinberg is quoting Melvin's testimony from Tuesday off the cuff.) If it's true then evidence has been suppressed... or she's lying!"

AJ gets up to address the court. "Your honor, counsel is saying the exact same thing with a little more [agitation]." AJ explains the stairwell and the male incident, that's clearly in Detective Tomlin's report. "She didn't say she recounted it over in detail... [... it's there] the reference that Rick Tomlin wrote in his report. [...] The thing of the course of the first trial [...] she was asked about Tannazzo [...] and that was asked outside the presence of the jury [...]" AJ then gives an example to the Judge about not passing on information that they would not use in their case. I don't understand it completely and Judge Fidler responds, "That argument puzzles me." AJ states, Well, we can take that up at another time your honor [..] We provide Mr. Weinberg with a script, of what we expect. [...] Mr. Weinberg is bringing up the same incident and packaging it differently."

Weinberg counters with, "We word searched in the entire transcript of the last case. Vincent Tannazzo was never mentioned in the last case. [...] This witness has testified to a pack of lies!" Again, Weinberg brings up and reads in detail the transcript of the first trial. "Nothing, noting in the last trial or in the discovery! Statements by Ms. Melvin to what she testified to. [...] There are no reports stating those three things! [...] It's no where in discovery!"

Judge Fidler responds, "There's a third possibility. She's merely incorrect."

Weinberg presses on. "Then the court should instruct the jury that there is no record of any conversation with law enforcement!"

AJ brings up the actually statements that Dorothy Melvin said yesterday on the stand. "I don't remember. I think I've told the story to many people." AJ goes over it again. Weinberg goes over his point again. And I'm so sick of hearing this, I can imagine the jury doesn't want to hear this witness take the stand again either.

Fidler addresses Weinberg, throwing him a bone. "We can certainly follow up on this at a later point. If you want to call witnesses, to see if they were told something different....[...] but I will give you the opportunity to follow up. I can't make a decision based on the information in front of me."

Weinberg does not appear to be happy with that. "Now you are putting the burden on the defense to track down witnesses."

To me, it appears Weinberg is doing all he can to get the Judge to admonish the people, and or get Melvin's testimony discredited, or thrown out all together.

Fidler responds, "In any event [...] Again, if you want to follow up...." Weinberg says, "I would like for the opportunity to question Detective Tomlin outside the presence of the jury." I was wondering what Detective Tomlin was thinking when he heard this since he was sitting in the front row.

Judge Fidler then addresses the issue of Vincent Tannazzo's private investigator's license. At first, Judge Fidler was leaning with Weinberg, in that he really didn't have a license. But he spent considerable time researching the New York law, and the statutes are "ambiguous. [..] There are lots of possibilities..." Fidler suggests that "...both sides follow it up because how I read the statute, ... and it's ambiguous."

And that appears to be it for arguments outside the presence of the jury. You can just feel the animosity dripping from both sides. I see Jennifer get up from the defense table and go over to whisper to Rachelle Short. The jury is then called to enter and before they start to file in, Judge Fidler remarks on one of Weinberg's earlier statements about the Christmas Party events being over ten years old and not relevant. He says to Weinberg, "That ten year argument; that ten years, it's a wash.... I never accepted it."

As the jury comes in, Judge Fidler explains to the jury the delay and apologizes to them. Dorothy Melvin takes the stand again and she's still under the first cross by Weinberg.

Weinberg starts in by questioning Ms. Melvin about her contact with the Pasadena Police Department. Yesterday, Melvin stated that the report [generated about Spector's assault on her] was inadequate or incomplete.

DW: This report was shown to you by Mr. Sorintino. (sp?)

DM: I have a memory of Mr Sorintino in my living room.

DW: Mr. Sorintino came to your house?

DM: Yes. [All the interviews were conducted at her home.]

DW: And you know he was on the case during the grand jury?

DM: Yes.

DW: The report was shown to you at the last trial?

Weinberg now confronts Melvin with her testimony from the first trial. He's going over it in detail. Supposedly, at the last trial she testified that she never read the report. Now she's testifying that she read the report and noted inconsistencies. Which is it? The defense reads the transcript from the first trial, even reading the objections from the first into this trial's record.

Objection! (I believe it's AJ who objects, but it could have been Ms. Do.) This is improper impeachment! A copy of the transcript from the first trial is up on the ELMO, and there it is highlighted where she said she didn't read it [the Pasadena incident report]. Weinberg did not cite the page and line number that he's quoting from and he's supposed to.

The prosecution is asking for some time to read over the original transcript of the first case, and AJ and Do take a moment to do that. Weinberg stands and waits at the podium. "Objections are not admissible and Mr. Weinberg knows that," the prosecution says. Judge Filder agrees.

I see AJ get up from his seat while Weinberg continues his cross and speak to one of his clerks. Weinberg is relentlessly crossing Dorothy Melvin. He is like a man with a flea comb, and picking out any tiny inconsistency from her testimony today, and comparing it to her testimony in the first trial.

DW: What incident [Christmas Party] do you remember first?

DM: The first incident of the two involved? A drunken male guest in a back stairwell. Second incident. Between Phil and a woman. There was a woman that... Phil had made derogatory statements about a woman's looks.

I think Weinberg asks Dorothy about specific dates and she replies, "If you're going to ask me about dates I can't remember." Throughout her entire testimony, she consistently testifies that she can not remember specific dates, although Weinberg tries numerous times to pin her down on what date events occurred.

The prosecution's clerk brings AJ a soft leather satchel case. Weinberg's cross of Melvin is relentless. He's picking apart every possible detail.

Weinberg asks Dorothy Melvin how often Vincent Tannazzo worked for Joan Rivers.

DM: Vinne, and Louie [Vincent Tannazzo's brother] were vetted by Gavin de Becker; they were with us at every party. We didn't go any were without them. They went with us to CBS every day.

DW: Every day?

DM: Joan had problems with stalkers.

Weinberg asks Dorothy Melvin when was the last time she saw Vincent Tannazzo. "The last time I saw Vinnie before that [in the hallway, a few days ago] was April of 2000," she testifies. Weinberg asks her who she discussed the events with and Dorothy says she just discussed the event with her attorney, Daniel Brookman. Weinberg brings up her prior testimony again, and another inconsistency. Melvin responds, "i was on chemo drugs at that time [during the first trial]. I'm not on those drugs now."

DW: For ten years after Spector pistol whipped you, you continued to be in contact with him.

Dorothy Melvin defends her actions. "They had a very pleasant evening [July 3rd, 1993, up until that point.]. That was the first time he got violent with me. He had never been violent before."

I take the time now to observe the jurors. A few focus their eyes on Weinberg. A few watch the witness. A few men in the back row are leaning back in their chairs and one man has his arms crossed across his chest. A few of the men close their eyes occasionally.

Dorothy is now replying with something that Weinberg asks be stricken from the record. Fidler at first agrees, then immediately reverses himself, clarifying his decision. I watch a few of the women alternates take notes. Weinberg continues to cross Dorothy Melvin about the July 3rd incident and what actually occurred. He implies to her that what really happened was an argument with Spector, and not an assault. He asks her that several times in several different ways.

Many times during cross, Dorothy Melvin in her tone and words expressed her exasperation with Weinberg's continual questioning about specific dates, what she said when and what she's saying now.

Redirect by Ms. Do.

More to come...

Footnote. I am working on expanding on my short end of day entries with more detailed coverage, and they will be included in the original entry, following the short update. I've also started on a detailed entry of opening statements. I'm currently working on the detail for the first day of testimony and part of the unedited draft is up already. So please check back for the detailed coverage.


Liz said...

I had thought this trial would be shorter than the previous - it would seem not - with 1/2 days and legal argument - what a shame that the facts seem to get lost amid the objections - it must be so very sad for Lana's family and friends to have to sit through all of this legal debate for a second time.

many thanks for the updates - always appreciated.

Christine said...

Sounds like Weinberg is like a pit bull, he just holds on until he gets what he wants. A formidable attorney who will attempt to win by just wearing everyone down and playing the game so well that the facts can't be accepted because of inconsistencies. "What color was it? Blue. Actually it tended more toward aqua, with a little green in it. Oh, then you're lying. First you said blue, now you say green." Etc. You can argue these little things forever. It is a terrible misuse of justice. This is where I think the law in this country has a big problem.... I only hope that Jackson and Do are able to do something to counter this.

CaliGirl9 said...

Those poor jurors are going to be utterly confused as to who is on trial by the time this is all over!

You know which defense witness is going to be very interesting? Punkin Pie. That gal can contradict herself in one sentence several times!

Thanks for the update Sprocket. To your knowledge, are there any websites posting this trial's transcripts?

shari said...

Wow Sprocket, how do you keep up??? I am afraid I would be totally lost. I can't imagine the jurors are having an easy time keeping up with nasty objections and constant clarifications. Its hard to keep the flow going when every time you get on a roll, someone has to object, or go to sidebar, or whatever else they do. Do you know if the infamous Punkin Pie and the other blonde, overly tanned bimbo will be called in this trial?

Sprocket said...

Thank you everyone!

liz: I think the tiral will be longer, too. Will just have to wait and see what happens.

christine: Weinberg is one crafty attorney. He's very sharp. Spector got his money's worth in this guy.

CaliGirl9: For a web site to have the trial transcripts, they would have to purchase them from the court reporters. Last time I heard, (Scott Peterson trial) the cost for transcripts in California was $1.00 a page. And a "page" in transcript lingo, is 28 lines of court reporter tape. To purchase Spector's trial transcripts would be a huge financial undertaking.

I do not know who the defense witnesses will be. "Punkin pie" is on the witness list under her "legal" name, which I think is "Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin.

deserteptx said...

I'm lost......nothing new, but has the Spector Trial started and is it being televised????

Sprocket said...

You just posted on "Day Three" of my coverage of the retrial. So to answer your question, yes, the trial has started and there is no television coverage.