Monday, May 23, 2011
Stephanie Lazarus at a prior pretrial hearing.
May 20th, 2011
When I clear security in the lobby, there is a slender bespeckled young man in line in front of me that I’ve seen at all the pretrial hearings I’ve attended in this case. I get the courage to speak up and ask him if he is here for Lazarus. He replies, “Yes.” I respond, “I thought I’d seen you at the hearings before.” We get around to finding out who each other is and that’s when I learn this is Matthew McGough who wrote that excellent piece, The Lazarus File for the June issue of The Atlantic.
Upstairs on the 9th floor, I’m waiting in the hallway right outside Judge Robert J. Perry’s courtroom, Dept. 104 with a group of reporters and Sherri Rasmussen’s family. Before that, I had dropped my computer bag off in Dept. 109 before heading back to 104. Judge Perry doesn't let reporters work on their blackberry's or laptops in his courtroom. It's back to hand notes.
Suddenly from the left wing of the hallway I see Kelly Soo Park walk by. She’s tall, slender and very attractive. From what I can see of her outfit, she’s wearing black slacks, sharp pointed toed black heels and a nicely tailored oyster colored trench coat. She’s carrying an over-the-shoulder older classic Yves St. Laurent bag and it looks like she has very little make-up on. She’s a natural beauty.
I didn’t know she had a pretrial hearing in her upcoming murder trial today. (It’s harder for me to keep track of cases where the defendant is out on bond when I don’t know which department has been assigned the case.) One of the reporters standing by me tells me the hearing is in Judge Kennedy’s courtroom. Now I know why we are supposedly starting so late for Fayed. It’s because of this Kelly Soo Park!
Now I’m really torn. Do I stay and hear what’s happening in Lazarus or do I go back down to 109 to hear what the Park case is all about. What to do, what to do. I’m only one person. I can’t cover it all. When I see John Taylor and the family enter 104, I decide to stay and hear what’s going to happen with Lazarus. There’s a rumor that a ‘firm’ trial date will be picked today.
8:40 am: I take my usual seat in the first plastic chair beside the last bench row. I see Courtney Overland talking to one of the defense private detectives. It’s not Bert Luper; it’s the other gentleman whose name escapes me at the moment.
There’s a DATELINE producer here, Greg Fisher from CBS 48 Hours and a few other reporters. Mark Overland, Shawn Presby and Paul Nunez are chatting with Judge Perry at the clerks desk.
It’s confirmed to me that the auburn-haired woman I’ve seen at other pretrial hearings is in fact Lazarus’ mother.
Courtney Overland is dressed in a black pantsuit and a white blouse. John Taylor is standing off to my right talking to someone and I notice that the suit he’s wearing is a tiny, tiny black and white woven check pattern.
I think we are waiting for Lazarus to be brought up to the 9th floor. Counsel are still chatting with Judge Perry. It looks like it’s an intense, off the record discussion. I finally locate Bert Luper. He’s in the last bench row all the way at the end, farthest from me on my left.
There are other people here for another case. Lazarus’ mother is sitting by herself in the first bench row.
Presby has left the informal conference at the clerk’s desk and is now talking to Nels and Loretta Rasmussen. Nunez, standing alone in the well has a serious contemplative expression on his face. I step outside quickly for a moment just to see if Kelly Soo Park is still in the hallway with her girlfriends. She is.
Now I see Presby and Nunez walk out of Dept 104 with their investigators. I don’t know if they are LAPD investigators but it’s a good guess. The court reporter, court clerk and bailiff are standing at the clerks desk, chatting. There are two other sheriffs standing by the entrance, chatting.
I just realize that Overland is no longer over by the clerk’s desk. He must be in with his client, Lazarus in the holding area. I note that Lazarus’ mother is wearing a gray knit top and black slacks. She wears glasses and her hair is cut in a short bob.
9:00 am: We’re still waiting. Greg Fisher gets up and leave and now Burt Luper gets up to leave. Pat Kelly from the Public Information Office drops in to speak to Perry’s clerk. I take the time to ask Pat Kelly about the media interest in this trial (she informs me virtually none) as well as what is the proper name for the area where the defendant’s are held before entering the courtroom. “Holding area,” she replies.
I’ve been trying to come up with an actor that Judge Perry resembles. He is slender, wears black glasses and has stark white hair. You could say he looks like he came right out of central casting. The photo at the link is of a much younger Perry.
9:10 am: Overland has come out from the holding area. A few moments later he goes back into holding. Judge Perry is at the clerks desk. Perry takes the bench but the prosecution team is missing. The defense investigator leaves and Presby follows him back inside 104. Overland is still with his client. I don’t see Presby up close and I’m wondering if he’s growing a beard again. It’s a small goatee. A detective and Nunez come back in.
Judge Perry on the bench, brings up and issue with Presby off the record. He’s discussing something new with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. I believe he’s taking about a new statute, regarding a type of parole where the released individual is not supervised on parole. You have to make an agreement to live in the county you were convicted in. You can be searched at any time. It’s something like, 30,000 are on this “non-revocable” status. I believe that’s what I heard him say.
Presby asks something to the effect of, “Some cost savings (for the DOC&R)?"
JP: I suppose.
SP: That’s the kind of parole to get if you can get it. (more)
I believe Judge Perry then states that it’s the Dept. of Corrections that makes the decision if the parolee is eligible or not.
JP: You bet. You sign the document and that’s it.
It’s called non-revocable (sp?) parole and there’s no monitoring. I try to listen in more on the discussion. I believe someone states there is a bill in the state legislature that for those defendant sentenced for 2 years (or less?) transfer those convicts to Los Angeles County (or any county?)
SP: (It) shifts the cost from the State to the County.
Perry then talks about that this flies in the face of the City of New York that to clamp down on crime went after jay-walking. The next piece of conversation I hear, Judge Perry is talking about there is a proposal for have judges be involved/take over parole hearings.
9:20 am: Lazarus is finally brought out. Judge Perry informs the room that the court reporter is low on battery power (for her laptop) so we will need to speak quickly.
Judge Perry lists the people who are here on the record. I hear him say, “...daughter Courtney, is also present.” I had guessed that Courtney Overland was Mark Overland’s daughter and I was right. Perry states that the parties had an informal discussion on the scheduling. A new date to return is stated, June 30th. I believe on that date, they will set a briefing schedule for pretrial motions. The court clock is set at 0-60 on June 30th, and set a trial date within 30 days of June 30th.
When Lazarus was quickly brought out, I didn’t see if she was wearing the white long johns under her orange jumpsuit. I don’t think so.
Judge Perry asks if Lazarus agrees to the 0-60 on June 3oth.
SL: Yes your honor.
There’s nothing else and the defendant is remanded back into custody. We all slowly file out of 104. I have in my notes the date August 22nd, for the start of trial but I clearly have a memory of one of the reporters telling me a firm trial date has been chosen of August 26th. When I exit 104 I see that Kelly Soo Park is still in the hallway. Her counsel is delayed and won’t be able to make it until 9:30 am.
Stephanie Lazarus Case Coverage Quick Links