The Battle of the Discovery Violations Accusations
Prosecution Witnesses Presented Today:
#2 Dorothy Melvin (now under cross by the defense; unfinished)
This is a short entry to give you and idea of what happened today. I have some sewing orders that I have to get out, and once I get that done I'll be writing up some detailed notes covering yesterday and today, so please keep checking back for that much later tonight.
Not much got accomplished today. You could sum up the day as the battle of the discovery violations accusations. Both sides are claiming foul.
Apparently, Mr. Weinberg got a report from his investigator into Tannazzo's background. Since Weinberg didn't have any "official" or "certified" documents, he kept saying he didn't have any discovery material to hand over. In a complaint to the court outside the presence of the jury Ms. Do said, "He lied to us and he lied to the court about what he had [...] and he sandbagged us and he sandbagged the witness..."
Ms. Do told the court she had to tell Mr. Weinberg that she saw the documents he had at the podium, and once she did that, she told the court he handed them over.
Weinberg responds: "Lets be real. I've have received zero discovery from the prosecution about the last trial." He continues to complain that the prosecution did not give him any discovery regarding new analysis that Dr. Lynn Herold has performed.
(I heard AJ tell Mr. Weinberg about this informally before the start of opening statements on Wednesday. Mr. Weinberg only asked one question of AJ: "Is her testimony going to change?" AJ replied, "No." Now he brings this up in defense of his own actions?)
Back and forth, back and forth it goes. Weinberg continues to complain that the prosecution has held stuff back.
Judge Fidler asks Weinberg, "Why wasn't it turned over? It's one thing to review records..."
Weinberg: "It's a report to me from my investigator. I don't have anything to turn over."
Do: "Impeachment material is discoverable. [...] Mr. Weinberg still hasn't answered why he hasn't [turned this over]. [...] "He continues to deflect by accusing us of discovery violations. It's clearly a violation. We don't' want to come in here everyday and be sandbagged every time [we put on a witness]."
(At some point, Ms. Do requests that much of the cross of Vincent Tannazzo be stricken from the record for this violation.)
Weinberg: "I don't have to turn over to them impeaching material if I don't have a document."
I think Weinberg is tap dancing around the issue. It's now just past 12 noon and Judge Fidler tells both parties that he has to look up some issues on discovery violations and he will get back to them with an answer at 1:30 pm tomorrow when court resumes.
Earlier today, before testimony resumed this morning, Judge Fidler ruled on a defense accusation that the prosecution did not turn over to the defense any "new" material that Dorothy Melvin was going to testify to. Weinberg went on and on and on about it. The prosecution maintains that the discovery was included in the court record from the first trial. On the first point, regarding the Joan River parties Melvin and Spector went to, Fidler agreed with the prosection. First trial transcript qualifies as discovery. On the second point, that Dorothy Melvin might testify to Spector using the "C" word at one of the parties, Fidler did rule that this was "new material," and a "minor violation." The remedy which everyone agreed to, was Mr. Weinberg had the opportunity to interview Ms. Melvin out in the hallway. Afterwards, he got to interview her on the stand, outside the jury's presence.
When Weinberg had Melvin on the stand outside the presence of the jury, he went over and over and over again, to the point of ridiculousness, what she actually said to whom, and when. Each and every time, Melvin stated that she spoke to so many law enforcement people, that she couldn't remember who she said what to, or when. Ms. Do finally objected and the Judge agreed that it was getting repetitive.
And that's how most of the cross examination of Melvin went. I'm sure the battle will be back on, tomorrow.
Update! Detailed Trial Notes for Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Reporters in the room: Harriet Ryan from the LA Times; Linda Deutsch from the Associated Press.
I get a seat on the 8:29 am trail. We left the house early enough and on the way home, Mr. Sprocket is going to drop off our mail-in ballots at a polling station. I peer down the extra tunnels as the train switches to the southbound tracks. A woman with an "I Vote" sticker on her shirt sits next to me at the Highland station.
9:07 am: Inside the courtroom I peer over at the clerks calendar and verify that the other day off in January is the 19th, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. The court reporter is setting up and Jennifer Barringer is already here and working at her laptop.
There are other DA or plain clothes looking officers waiting to present something to Judge Fidler. The clerk today is a replacement. Wendy must have the day off.
9:14 am: Mr. Weinberg and his paralegal, Susan arrive. One of the chairs at the defense table is missing. Spector's special chair. The sheriff's explain that a defendant who is in custody is coming out for a hearing, and they can't be sitting in a "slider" chair, on wheels. I'm the only public person in the gallery.
Fidler comes out to receive documents from two suited gentlemen. This is not the only case before Fidler. Other cases continue to slowly wind their way through the legal process.
I guess the in custody defendant has already come and gone. The bailiff's are bringing out Spector's special chair. The courtroom is ice cold and I'm regretting not taking the time to blow dry my hair. It's still wet and up in a bun on my head. Attorney's are before Fidler about another case that one of the counsel says, "needs a new date and a home."
9:24 am: The Clarkson's arrive and we chat a bit about Mr. Sprocket's arm injury. He still isn't allowed to lift more than five pounds with his right arm.
A woman who looks like a DA walks in with AJ & Do. She heads over to the clerk's desk. Pat Dixon is here. He sits in the far back corner. AJ comes over to talk to the Clarkson's about the court schedule. There will be no afternoon session today so everyone has time to vote. And, there will be no court in the morning just in case there are election result parties.
Harriet Ryan enters the room at the same time that I learn there will be two days where court will be dark week: Monday and Tuesday, because Vetran's day is on Tuesday. We're just about ready to start. As I reflect on Weinberg's cross of Tannazzo, I don't think he damaged his credibility much at all.
9:39 am: Well, I thought we were going to start on something. No Spector; virtually no public in the gallery and only one person from the press.
9:40 Jon Scott arrives, and we go on the record; the defendant is not present.
This is about the Dorothy Melvin testimony of the two Christmas incidents that Weinberg is claiming he never received any discovery on.
I have this note on my pad, but it's not bringing back any memory. I'm sorry. AJ: Did you read the record? Mr. Weinberg is unaware of certain areas of discovery violation. "Court has asked that me make Mr. Dixon available," AJ states. I'm not positive, but I believe that it's Fidler who says, "I don't know that there could be a better discover disclosure." [I believe he's referring to the transcript of the first trial.]
DW: Let's be clear about what the record shows.
Weinberg states the same argument as the day before and he reads from the first trial transcript. "If she said more than what happened at the Joan River's party, then the defense has not received it in discovery," he continues.
Detective Tomlin is here. Counsel stops for a moment so the jury can be brought in.
9:48 am: Once the jury enters the jury room, we resume. A PIO staff member comes in. Weinberg goes onto say, "This is blindsiding [the defense]. [...] They want you to believe that that single statement is adequate discovery!" AJ says, "This is ridiculous!" And he goes onto explain the context. Weinberg goes on to argue his point again, saying, "...obviously within the last week..." Fidler states that there are several issues that he will read into the record. He states that since what Mr. Dixon said was read into the record [first trial] "...that's adequate discovery."
Since Weinberg's back is to me, I don't see what happens next.
Fidler: Mr. Weinberg! Don't heave! Don't sigh! That's one thing that pushes my buttons! [Just] because they don't like my ruling!
[Wow! Fidler is really irritated by Weinberg's facial expressions regarding his ruling!]
Ms. Do: Ms. Melvin flew in from Israel. I had a short telephone conversation with Ms. Melvin [while she was in the car driving from the airport]. [...] She did recall something about the "C" word.
Weinberg: First, let me apologize for my gestures. They were automatic. (ROTFLMAO! What an excuse, lol! Does that mean you can't control your responses Mr. Weinberg?) But I think the court is making a real leap here.
Weinberg drags this out again, and he continues to argue the point about the "C" word. And then Fidler throws the defense a bone.
Fidler: This is different and I believe this should have been disclosed to the defense.
AJ: We didn't know any of those details and we didn't ask.
Weinberg: I appreciate the courts ruling..... (And then Fidler lets the air out.)
Fidler: I don't think this is a major discovery violation.
Counsel all agree that Weinberg will step outside into the hallway and interview Melvin about the "C" word and the Christmas parties.
Linda Deutsch enters. A very pretty young Asian woman enters and sits in the third row near Linda Deutsch. She's probably an extern. There's a bit of bustle in the gallery as we wait for Weinberg to interview Melvin. The bodyguard leans in from the back row to speak to Rachelle. Then Rachelle and Jennifer chat. Dorothy Melvin's friend (I'll call her "N") enters the courtroom and sits beside me. N and Jon discuss Memphis music and a station that he worked at as a disc jockey playing rock music. I try to listen in, but I'm lost. People chat and wait.
10:15 am both counsel enter the courtroom.
Weinberg addresses the court, but my note is not clear. "She spoke to Melvin (?) and she knows about the incidents and she's sure that she mentioned them to LE."
AJ: I can't believe this. Not 30 seconds before.....
Melvin's attorney enters and sits off to my left. Weinberg continues to argue his point. Truc stands up to explain all that Ms. Melvin will testify to.
Fidler: I haven't ruled yet.
Weinberg wants to ask her a few questions on direct so let's bring her in. She will testify outside the presence of the jury. AJ also has issues regarding Weinberg's cross of Tannazzo. Melvin's attorney leans in and asks N to go out and see where Melvin is.
A young, very casually dressed black man comes in and sits in the back row.
Dorothy takes the stand.
A short, salt and pepper haired woman enters with an Obama t-shirt on.
Melvin describes an incident where Spector was waving a gun in the back stairwell at one of Joan River's parties. Weinberg paces when he's directing Melvin. Now he gets into very detailed minutia. She remembers three incidnets. One where she took a gun out of Spector's boot. Now he's asking her waht she told Detective Tomlin. She describes how Rivers set up her livingroom as a ballroom. Weinberg is going over and over again as to what she said, when she said it and to whom. Weinberg continues to pace by the podium. Melvin is getting irritated with Weinberg because she can't remember dates.
AJ: Objection! It's becoming repetitive.
Fidler agress and states, "It's been asked and answered."
TD: Your honor; is this an area that we are permitted to inquire?
I don't have it in my notes but I believe this is where Truc is now crossing her own witness since Weinberg led off, or this might be where the jury entered. Unfortunately, it's not in my notes. So maybe this is where Truc picks up and continues with her direct examination of Melvin.
Melvin says, "I've not told anyone in my personal life. I'm not proud [of this event].
A tiny, rail thin older woman with bottle-blond hair enters the courtroom and sits beside Rachelle. She's been in the courtroom before.
Dorothy tries to describe the parties that Rivers had and how her three floor apartment was set up.
TD: Mr. Spector waived a gun in the middle of the room? (I miss the answer.)
Melvin describes how Rivers, "...took an old ballroom and turned it into an apartment." The room was huge. "Spector was in the middle of the ballroom. He was drunk, waiving a little revolver. [...] I think I know who it was because he had made disparaging remarks about her earlier. [...] His hands were moving around. [...] He was yelling profanities."
She, Spector and Vince all got into the elevator. She describes how small the elevator was. Spector was still talking about the woman in the elevator using disparaging remarks in the elevator. She told Ms. Rivers about the incident. Now Melvin is testifying about the incident in July where she had to escape his Pasadena house.
AJ is now going to help Truc with her direct exam of Melvin regarding the shotgun. He gets the shotgun from the bailiff and takes it out of the leather case. Fidler asks if he's cleard the weapon with the bailiff?
AJ: Yes your honor.
AJ pumps the shotgun. I think he does it twice. The sound resonates throughout the courtroom.
TD: Mr. Jackson just pumped the shotgun. Was that the sound you heard?
The gun is put away and Truc plays the audio tapes of messages she received from Spector for the jury.
There is a huge binder on the ledge of the witness box. I later realize that this is a binder of all the evidence the prosecution is admitting. Melvin is instructed to open the binder up to a certain page. Up on the ELMO is the statement: SPECTOR'S MESSAGES TO DOROTHY MELVIN, and there is a photo of an old answering machine.
The first one is a rambling, long message about why hasn't she called Spector back.
Next message: "We just wanted you to know that what you did last night was the right thing [...] it's alright. We really understand [...] it's okay; under the circumstances..."
Next message: (Spector is still joking) "I didn't mean any ill will...."
Next message: "I don't know how to apolgize for my actions. [...] My behavior is inexcusable. And I apologize. I wish you well and I'm sorry. I really am. You deserve a lot better than that."
Next message: "Sorry I'm late calling chief, but I had some trouble with my nipple ring." (Spector then starts to get nasty.) Be careful what you say to me because nothing is worth your life...."
Next message: "I hope you had a nice time! You're f***ed! You're f***ed and you'll never get out of what you did! [...] You'll see papers in the morning..."
TD: The messages. You received all the messages after the incidents of that weekend?
Truc asks her about the first message, where Spector speaks exclusively in the plural "we." Melvin explains the "Royal" Spector rarely said "I. He always used "us" or "we." Melvin states she never returned any call. Later that weekend they spoke. Melvin is not sure if she called him or he called her.
TD: How did that last message make you feel?
DM: Fearful for my life.
End of direct; Weinberg gets up to cross.
DW: You've never testified about this incident before? (Weinberg does this same tactic in a later witness, Stephanie Jennings.)
DM: Mr. Weinberg, I don't know. [Possibly to Paul Fournier.]
DW: You testified to the grand jury [didn't you]?
Melvin is adamant that she's not sure who or when she told what to.
After the bench conference, Fidler tells the court, "The last question is withdrawn ladies and gentlemen."
DW: Prior to your testimony on April 26, 2007, did anybody ask you about incidents involving Vincent Tannazzo?
DM: I never mentioned Mr. Tannazzo by name. There wasn't any need to.
Weinberg asks the question again.
DM: I had many people that talked to me.
Melvin's tone in answering Weinberg is exasperated.
AJ leaves the table for a moment and steps out.
DW: Isn't it true that the only thing you told Detective Tomlin about was something about Spector and a male guest?
DM: Mr. Weinberg. I can't be more clear. I didn't keep a diary.
Weinberg keeps going back to this issue regarding the back staircase at Rivers's apartment, and that she "frisked" Spector.
DW: Isn't it true that you only told them about one incident?
DM: I don't remember.
DW: Isn't it true that you never said anything about something involving a woman?
Melvin gets more exasperated. She states that sometime later, she called and talked about an incident at Elaine's involving Phil Spector. This is where some fans approached Spector, excited to see him and they thought that he was Dudley Moore. (I think this is outside of Elaine's.) When Spector realizes these men (there are several of them) don't know who he is, he pulls out a gun and chases them down the street. Dorothy explains how Spector was holding the gun as he ran down the street after the men. His arm was straight out in front of him holding the gun and chasing after these mistaken fans.
DW: And you never, "Oh, and I just thought of another?"
DW: Do you remember when the Christmas parties were?
Melvin is not sure and lists a few dates. He puts the photo of her and Spector up on the screen. "Could that be in '93?' he asks her. "No, because he didn't come to a Christmas party in '93." she states. "If I did testify that I was mistaken. Probably '90, '91, or '92.
Weinberg keeps trying to trip her up. He asks her about her relationship with Spector, insisting that it was a physical one. Melvin insists that it was more a verbal relationship. Although she does admit there was a physical relationship, she states, "It was rare." (My next note is not very clear. I'm sorry.)
DM: Do I understand what happened at the Christmas parties didn't stop me until July 1993. [...] Until then I thought it was a lot of bluster and bravado. [...] It was stupid of me. [...] Outside of these maniacal episodes, he's a charming man. [...] He's smart. Brilliant. And he's charming, yes.
DW: You knew quite a bit about Phil Spector?
He asks her if she knew about his son Phillip Jr., who died when he was 9. Weinberg gets to bring all this up even though Truc objects. It's overruled. There is something mentioned about his son on one of the answering machine messages. Weinberg asks her extensively when this happened and there is a while discussion as to how old Nicole was when she was seeing Spector.
DW: I'm talking about the fact that his son had an emotional impact on him?
DM: He talked about little Phil a lot. [...] He did say that. It doesn't excuse him for hitting me with a gun.
DW: He said that the contributing factor to his mental state was the death of his son?
DM: Yes, he did say that.
DW: He liked to put people on edge?
DM: Yes. [...] I spent a long time listening to him talk to me. [...] Sometimes, I'd get a call screaming at me because I fell asleep.
Weinberg gets her to admit that Spector usually used foul language. It was normal for Spector.
DM: I never considered myself in a relationship with him. [...] I went places with him. [...] I had a whole 'nother life.
Weinberg keeps pressing her on this point. He wants her to concede that he was her boyfriend.
DM: Did I ever consider him a boyfriend? Never.
DW: So he used foul language and waved guns and you stayed with him?
DM: I come out of the entertainment and Television business. Unusual behavior is not unusual for me. [...] In retrospect, I was stupid. There were other boyfriends.
DW: When you told Detective Tomlin, "He's insane." You meant that in an affectionate way?
DM: Well, I think there's some truth to that.
DW: Until '93, there was never once that you were subjected to any violence?
DM: Me? No.
Weinberg is trying to deflect the enormity of his behavior and language for the jury. Melvin states under cross that when he wasn't drinking, it wasn't so foul. As Weinberg continues to cross Melvin, I see Truc and AJ whisper. Weinberg asks Melvin about guns.
DW: Phil carried guns and had guns with him?
DW: He said people were after him?
After some confusion, Fidler asks her a question. "He never said he was afraid for his life?"
DW: He pulled guns and you kept dating [him]?
DM: I was stupid. [...] Melvin is adamant. Spector never came to her apartment.
DW: When you would go out, you went to his room with him?
DM: Only two or three times.
Melvin goes onto explain the suite at the Waldorf that Spector rented.
DM: You have to know this was this massive suite. There were many rooms. [...] You make it seem like this happened a lot. I only saw him a few times.
Weinberg moves onto the July 1993 incident. And then he asks her about going somewhere with Spector after the July 1993 incident.
DM: I went to a basketball game with him afterwards. I wasn't worried because he never drank when he went to a Laker game.
Regarding the 1993 incident. Melvin has a recollection of when she woke up it was still dark. It was not quite morning yet. She remembers him coming down the driveway and it was still dark.
DW: Didn't you tell the police you had a disagreement?
DM: Mr. Weinberg! Don't change it into a disagreement. It was an assault.
More detail after detail after detail. Now Melvin states that "...the police didn't document what I said in their report."
A woman comes into 106 and sits in the row of plastic chairs behind the defense area.
DW: You saw the report and you're absolutely certain you told them all this?
Melvin is certain.
DW: But the sort of it is that report doesn't say anything about you being hit. Nothing about any welts?
Melvin is incensed about the report being "incomplete."
Weinberg puts the photo of her and Spector at one of Joan Rivers's Christmas parties up on the ELMO again and asks her about it.
DM: It was probably 1990 or 1991 after looking at the dress.
Dorothy Melvin is temporarily off the stand. As she leaves she walks by the gallery and as she faces the gallery it looks like she mouthed some words but no sound came out. I have no idea what she was trying to say. I'm not sure if she was trying to say something to the Clarkson's or to her friend sitting beside my right.
After the witness has left the courtroom, Ms. Do stands up and addresses the court. "I don't like to have a contentious element in trial. [We are constantly] under attack with potential violations....given what happened yesterday. [...] No new statement [...] There are two witnesses that Mr. Weinberg has added that did not testify during the first trial. (I believe Truc goes onto say that they have not received any information on these witnesses.)
DW: I have nothing. I have no documents.
Truc charges that he state he had no documents. She brings up the "bankruptcy" issue during Tannazzo's cross. "He lied to us about what he had; he sandbagged us and sandbagged the witness." She tells Fidler that she hadn to tell Weinberg that she saw the documents he had at the podium, and then he handed the papers over.
DW: Lets be real. [...] I have received zero discovery from the prosecution about the last trial.
Now he complains about Dr. Lynn Herold and the new stuff she is going to do. (I overheard the statements AJ said to him, earlier. He told Weinberg that the defense HAD the diagram that Dr. Herold would use. Weinberg only had one question. "Is her testimony going to change?" AJ replied, "No." At that time, Weinberg acted like that was fine with him.) Weinberg complains some more that the prosecution has held stuff back.
The two sides battle it out. Fidler asks Weinberg, "Why wasn't it turned over? It's one thing to review records....
DW: It's a report to me from my investigator. [...] I don't have anything to turn over.
AJ (or Truc): Impeachment material is discoverable.
TD: He continues to deflect by accusing us of discovery violations. It's clearly a violation. We don't want to come in here every day and be sandbagged every time.
DW: I don't have to turn over to them impeaching material if I don't have a document.
Fidler looks at the clock and says, "We will have an answer tomorrow at 1:30 pm."
And that's it. Court is over for the day. This line of questioning and this tap dancing is a glimpse of what the prosecution has ahead of them.