Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Today, Judge Fidler will rule on final jury instructions. I will report as soon as a decision is made on the lesser included charge.
Update: 1:00 pm
After all that Judge Fidler still didn't rule on the lesser included! He will rule on that tomorrow when counsel meet in court again at 10:30 am. I have already decided not to go since I am way behind at home.
9:19 am: I'm inside 106 and the only other person there is Linda from San Diego. I notice that there is sunlight coming into the courtroom from the jury room door that has been left open. I get up out of my regular seat to walk down to the far left of the second bench row and try to take a peek in from the gallery. The court reporter Cindy is at her desk and I mention that I've never seen inside the jury room. She replies, "It's just a room." I don't see much. There is a short, wide hallway, a table on the far left with what might be a microwave and a television on a stand behind that. The actual jury room table is out of view. The courtrooms ~at least on the 9th floor~ are all designed where the jury rooms (and I believe the Judge's chambers) have windows.
When Jackson and Truc Do enter the courtroom, I ask Wendy if it's possible to know why the court is dark on March 30th and the 31st. She tells us that the 31st is a State holiday, honoring Cesar Chavez. She also adds that it's customary when a holiday falls on an odd day like Tuesday, most of the courts also take the day before or the day after off.
Wendy asks Weinberg, "Is Mr. Riordan here?" Weinberg responds, "He's trusted this delicate operation to me." When Wendy sees the new table of contents for the defense exhibits she says, "This is a beautiful table of contents." Weinberg responds, "I take full credit."
Truc Do is wearing a dress I don't think I've seen before. It's a deep purple dress with a matching fabric belt. It has pockets and a v-neck with ruffles. All parties mention that the courtroom is hot and Truc takes off her black jacket she's wearing with her dress. It's then that I see that her dress is sleeveless. Even Weinberg took off his jacket. When Fidler finally takes the stand, even he mentions that it's hot in 106 and that he's already put in a request.
Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times enters 106 and sits in her familiar spot in the back row.
When Jackson came into court and sees Linda from San Diego and myself, he makes a comment that we are "hard core" trial watchers because this part of the case, going over exhibits and jury instructions even he would rather not be here. I say to him, "I wouldn't normally be here except for the fact of the defendant's repeated efforts to try to intimidate me."
The first issue that Fidler addresses is a question that Weinberg made of Ester Rodriguez that the people objected to and the objection was sustained. Fidler wanted to get on the record the clarification of his ruling on that issue. Even after Fidler explains his position, Weinberg states for the record that he understands the court's position but he disagrees with it. One of his arguments is something to the effect of, "The defense has been foreclosed from examining [...] them on prior conflicting testimony." As Weinberg continues to argue, Fidler has what I can only describe as an exasperated expression on his face.
The next issue that is discussed is the involuntary manslaughter charge and whether or not it will be included for the jury. Fidler tells the court, "I have a rough idea of what People v. Lee is and People v. Garcia is." Fidler then tells the prosecution that he would like them to refresh Fidler's memory on the 1101(b) witnesses. He won't tell them why, but he is asking them to just go along with him for now and that it has to do with what he thinks is his resolution. Jackson pauses for a time and then tells the court that he is getting his thoughts together. The court tells him to take his time.
Jackson then goes through the 1101(b) witnesses. First he presents Dianne Ogden and the two events that happened to her in summary. Fidler asks, "Did he ever point the gun at her in the second incident?" Jackson responds, "Yes." Next is Stephanie Jennings, then Dorothy Melvin, then Devra Robitaille and last, Melissa Grosvenor. Jackson states that in every incident, at every point, a gun was pointed at each of the women.
Fidler then states what he believes are the facts of Lee. "Lee stands away from all other cases. [...] In Lee, the gun was always between them. There is no testimony that ever said the gun was pointed at her. [...] The people's theory is based on the other incidents. [...] In any event, using that to [...] And in Lee, the description (it was) without further incidents (prior brandishing) is a close contact wound."
In continuing with his train of thought to the people, Fidler asks something to the effect of, "Your prior is [...] show me some substantial evidence [...] give me evidence that it happened any other way."
Jackson responds to Fidler's request. "How did the gun get in her mouth?" He states that he can think of any number of ways and he describes them. He goes onto say, "The question is of intent. Did he intend, (or) tell her to open her mouth?"
There are quite a few more statements by everyone but I don't write them all down. Fidler says something about "Brandish and a completed assault are not (?) events." Jackson continues with, "We believe that there could be a reasonable interpretation where Spector pulls the gun (and a juror could infer themselves how the gun got there)." Fidler speaks again. Then Jackson mentions that Weinberg in questioning every one of the 1101(b) witnesses stated Spector waves a gun around. "Given that we know he waves it (the gun), given that he points it." Jackson finishes with, "I don't know if that gets you any closer. [...] We don't have to know how it got to that point." Fidler, trying to be funny states, "Every time I think I'm close, they drag me back." He then clarifies that this is a line from the Sopranos.
Truc Do then argues a bit more for the people. I think it's Truc who mentions that in People v. Garcia, there are witnesses to verify that there was an assault. There's no question that it wasn't a brandishing. (I'll add a note here that I believe both sides prepared motions on the lesser included issue.)
Weinberg speaks so quickly that I don't get the main thrust of his argument. To start, he says something to the effect, "There is no problem with the court in respect to (invulnerability?) in ruling..." He argues that in Lee, "We don't know what happened." He argues that there is a conflict with 1101(b) witnesses where (there is absence of mistake). He has more argument but I miss getting that last part of it written down.
Jackson states, "We're not going to work on some legal fiction. [...] We are interested in what the law requires. [...] Do I think it's required by law? Yes I do." (This is the crux of why the people have requested the lesser included. Their argument is they feel it is required by law.)
After all this, it's when Fidler waffles and won't give a ruling. "I'll give you a decision this afternoon. Even if we're not in session, I'll get it to you and put it on the record." (Later, at the end of court, he asks both parties if he can give them his decision tomorrow, when they meet at 10:30 am.) At that point, I was going to leave because I did not see the point of staying, however I'm glad I did.
They go over the people's exhibits that number #1 through #299. They withdrawal exhibit #286 which has to do with the MySpace profiles. Weinberg objects to many of the prosecution's exhibits being stylized as to "crime scene." Fidler reminds him that he's told the jury many times that this is just one party's view of the case and not facts in evidence and he overrules on this objection.
Weinberg objects to several documents. He starts with #41(b) which I believe is an image of the Viagra blister pack and that objection is overruled. He objects to the images of the other weapons that were found as well as the images of the holsters and those are overruled.
10:32 am: Pat Dixon enters 106.
Fidler removes exhibits #287 and #288 which were the NIMH's (National Institute of Mental Health) descriptions on depression. The people already indicated that they would not come in. Fidler states he also excludes the information on Intermittent Explosive Disorder. He feels that these documents might take the jurors down "the wrong path."
Weinberg requests that Lana Clarkson's resume be excluded and he's initially overruled. (Later, Fidler states that he will rule on the resume as well as the CV of the defense expert witnesses probably tomorrow.) Weinberg then goes into a long argument to exclude the video tape from the first trial of Jamie Lintemoot's testimony (describing where she saw blood on Lana Clarkson's wrists). His grounds were that it was not produced during her examination. It was only produced during expert opinion. Fidler rules but Weinberg continues to argue. He goes on and on and on trying to get the video out but Fidler stands by his ruling.
Then the defense's exhibits are reviewed and the people are objecting to specific documents. The first exhibit, #500, is a page of transcript testimony from the first trial. Fidler states that, "It can be used to refresh a witness's testimony but basically they cannot be admitted." The people also object to exhibit #501 because (I believe) it's a duplicate of a prosecution exhibit and Fidler does not allow duplicate exhibits. He feels it doesn't matter "who" introduces the exhibit, it draws undue attention to an exhibit if it's duplicated.
Weinberg then goes off on Fidler for removing his exhibits. His tone and demeanor is very upset and angry. He feels that it isn't fair since the defense introduced the exhibit first and it's putting a disadvantage on the defense to have all of "their" exhibits removed when they were the one's who first introduced the exhibit! Fidler says to him, "You're getting excited over something that I don't believe is that important." Weinberg won't let the issue go though, and Fidler snaps back, "I'm NOT going to leave it both in! The answer is no!" He then says to Weinberg, "Mr. Weinberg! You're mad-dogging me!" He actually said that! And then he says something about the look on Weinberg's face staring at him. I can't see Weinberg's face because his back is to me but the Judge obviously reacted to the face that Weinberg gave him.
The people object to defense exhibit #502 and #503 being duplicates of the people's #157. Weinberg is upset again because these are exhibits he introduced first, so I'm gathering from his complaint that these exhibits should be in the defense's book and not the prosecution's. He gives the same argument and Fidler has to explain to him, again, that this is not important whose book the exhibits are in and he will make sure the jury understands that. "I'm going to tell the jury exactly [...] This is a non-issue. It's a made up issue," Fidler states to Weinberg.
Truc Do objects to the Pasadena Police Report on the Dorothy Melvin incident. I then learn something I did not know. Police reports are considered hearsay (because they often contain language of witnesses and/or rely on witness statements). I did not know this. The people want a clarification as to what defense exhibit #506 is. It's a CD and they wish to know the content. Weinberg's response is, "The clerk has it." Jackson's response shows he's clearly irritated by Weinberg's rebuffed answer and asks him directly, "Well, what is it!" We don't get an answer from Weinberg.
More exhibits are removed because they are duplicates of the people's exhibits. The people object to the defense expert's CV's being introduced because not all items on the CV's were discussed in testimony, therefore they argue, they are hearsay. When the people object to that then Weinberg objects to Lana Clarkson's resume on the same grounds. The people also object to many witnesses hand written notes being introduced because they are not official documents. One such example is the notes Dr. Pena took of a staff meeting.
Sometime before 11:00 am, Harriet Ryan leaves. Weinberg then states that he didn't realize that so many of his exhibits would be objected to and therefore he needs to go back through the people's exhibits in the same manner that his exhibits were gone through. Court is finally recessed at 11:30 am. They will reconvene at 10:30 am tomorrow to make the final decisions on jury instructions as well as exhibits.
Just an afterthought, there was no mention of special instruction #1 that the defense wanted.
P.S. I'm still planning on updating the entry on the last day of testimony as well as putting up an entry of all of Spector's statements he made at the house as well as the Alhambra Police Station. At this time, I'm not sure when I'll get that completed.
Update 2: 4:50 pm
After I published this last update, I realized I forgot to give everyone information on closings! Weinberg asks Fidler about having reserved seats or extra seats for the defense. Fidler tells him to let the clerk know (but I believe he adds that it's got to be a reasonable number. It can't be people far removed). Fidler states that he doesn't think there is much media interest but he does say that closing arguments will be filmed. There is no mention that it will be live streamed. Wendy adds that from the number of calls she's been receiving, she believes that there is a lot of interest in the closings and that quite a few people will be showing up. On the first floor, as Linda from San Diego and I exit the elevator, I see Allan Parachini just clearing the security on the first floor. He looks to be in a big rush but I ask him, "Mr. Parachini, Judge Fidler stated that there will be cameras in the courtroom for closings. Is that confirmed?" Allan states, "Yes, there will be cameras." Since it's apparent he was in a hurry to get to wherever he is going I don't bother him with another question.
It is unknown how the court will handle the press and public that show up for this trial. The Public Information Office could take names on whomever shows up first like they did for opening statements, or they could decide draw tickets. For those of you planning on going to closing arguments, be aware that the gallery is quite limited in it's seating. Keep in mind that both sides will get seats for their supporters. And, I suspect that there will be several members from the district attorney's staff that will automatically get seats.
When vior dire was in progress, they were barely able to seat all 75 jurors in the gallery at one time and also have a seat for Rachelle and Spector's bodyguard. During vior dire there was only a single seat for the press and no seats for the public. I only got to sit in the press seat next to the door when the press did not show up. Regardless, I still recommend getting to court early if you plan on trying to get in.
Before court started for the day, I asked Joshua how long the prosecution will argue. He indicated that in total (Jackson and Truc Do) the prosecution will argue about one day. So I ask, in total, about five hours? Joshua thinks that's about right. I also ask about how long the defense will argue. He states that the defense will argue a day-and-a-half. I expect closings will take three days and we will be lucky if the jury gets instructed on Wednesday. I predict the jurors will get instructed on Thursday and get the case directly after.