UPDATE: 10/10/12 add Mayer link
UPDATE: 10/5/12: for clarity, accuracy
October 2nd, 2012
Real life responsibilities to Mr. Sprocket's business have kept me from posting as timely as I would like. Also, a special event bit into my regular writing time Tuesday evening. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to attend a dinner lecture at the University of Southern California (USC) organized by Oliver Mayer, Playwright, and tenured professor at USC. Afterward, everyone was invited to continue the conversation at Mayer's campus residence where his wife Marlene Forte (an actress on the new Dallas series) served some amazing desserts. I am envious of students today, who have the opportunity to learn in such a rich, supportive environment.
I was hoping that I would be able to attend both the Park and Brown hearings Tuesday morning, but the best of plans can still be waylaid by things out of one's control. The day started out well. I arrived on the 9th floor of the downtown criminal court building at 8:21 AM. That's not bad for leaving my house at 7:15 AM.
The Cameron Brown hearing in Dept. 107 is at 8:30 AM at one end of the 9th floor hallway. Dept. 109 is at the other end of the hall and Judge Kennedy usually starts her day a little after 9:00 AM. I'm hoping the Cameron Brown hearing is over quickly so I can rush down to the other end of the hall and catch some of the Kelly Soo Park hearing.
While I wait on a stone bench, there are two fit detective-like individuals on the hallway end bench. One is a man wearing a suit, the other is a woman with her hair in a ponytail and her badge attached to her belt. Two other people, an older, short balding man and a trim Asian woman approach. The woman tells the detectives, "They are delaying; sorry to have to tell you." The group now tries to set up dates for return. One of the detectives asks, "So, when do I have to come back?"
8:27 AM Dept. 107 opens and the five of us go inside. Court reporter Patricia McNeal arrives, greets Judge Pastor's clerk Mrs. Benson and sets up her equipment. Right after Pat, DDA Craig Hum arrives and goes up to the counter at Mrs. Benson's desk to check in. While Hum is at the counter, Mrs. Benson has put a call on speaker. It's the defense attorney Aron Laub. He's stuck in traffic and will be late. Hum jokingly addresses Laub about Judge Pastor, "He's very displeased Mr. Laub!" I can hear Laub laugh at Hum's comment.
It's a good guess that all that's going to happen today is to pick a new date for the next pretrial hearing. I debate in my mind whether or not to go down to Dept. 109 and check back in here later, but I decide to stay. Mr. Benson had said Mr. Laub will be about 20 minutes late. Hum is still at Mrs. Benson's counter, looking though a clear plastic box filled with some type of candy that reminds me of fruit strips. Mrs. Benson tells Hum that Dept. 107 currently has a jury deliberating.
Several more attorneys arrive in Dept. 107, possibly for another pretrial hearing before the court. The DDA that arrives is a tall, slender blond woman. After she drops off her heavy briefcase, the detectives I first saw in the hallway and the blond prosecutor step outside the courtroom to chat.
At 8:37 AM Ted Kaldis, Brown's brother-in-law arrives and sits in a bench row behind me. I wondered why Kaldis and his sister had missed the last two court hearings. I guess his sister is still married to Brown.
Craig keeps getting up from the prosecution table to raid Mrs. Benson's candy box. The female prosecutor in the other case returns and takes a seat in the well directly in front of the jury box. She's wearing a matching gray skirt suit with a deep green top. She's got gorgeous gray pumps on her slender feet. I haven't been able to wear heels higher than an inch or two ever since I broke my ankle in four places over twenty years ago. I miss high heels. I will have to continue to admire them from afar.
DDA Hum utilizes this wait time to work. He appears to be going over a motion and attaching tiny post-it notes to various pages. The other counsel in the room check their smart phones for messages and schedules. The Asian attorney and the prosecutor chat about scheduling. Over on the benches to my left, I note that the female detective is wearing a dark blue plastic band on her right wrist. As the minutes tick by I'm grateful there are seat and back cushions on the wood benches.
One of the two defense attorneys gets up and speaks to the family sitting behind me to my right. Brown's wife Patty shows up and takes a seat in the bench row behind me. In the brief glimpse I got of her, I noted that her hair is completely gray now. Patty is about ten years older than her husband and her attire today is very casual. She's wearing bright red capri pants, a simple white top and gold lame flats.
We go on the record in the other case before Judge Pastor. Two defendants are brought out, both in blue jumpsuits. The both look to the gallery, and one of them winks, most likely at the people behind me.
As the attorneys are working out the next pretrial hearing, Judge Pastor tells the attorneys something that wakes me up. "As of January 1st, I'm not going to be in this court. Judge George Lomeli (will be taking over)." I'm quite sad. I really like Judge Pastor. I wonder if he will stay in this courthouse or move to another location.
Right after the hearing ended, Judge Pastor warns the attorneys and those in the gallery that there is a sitting jury just outside and to not discuss the particulars of the case until they've passed security. Judge Pastor asks Mrs. Benson that the jury room door be opened and about Mr. Laub. He then asks or makes a statement, something to the effect of, 'I always want to know what freeway...' (possibly wondering where Mr. Laub is coming from). Mr. Hum gets up from the prosecution table for another trip to Mrs. Benson's candy box.
It's 9:00 AM and we're still waiting for Mr. Laub. Judge Pastor waits at the bench and then gets into a discussion with his deputy about phone service in Canada. Behind me, Ted speaks up and asks if he may offer some advice to Judge Pastor about phone service providers. Ted tells Judge Pastor that he used to be a telecommunications engineer for ATT. He then rattles off the 'formats' for Sprint and Verizon, stating they are both "CDMA." Judge Pastor is going to Canada, and he's wondering if he will have phone service with his carrier there. Judge Pastor's deputy asks Judge Pastor what phone service he uses.
9:15 AM Court reporter Mavis Theodorou comes out from the back rooms and goes over to Pat at their shared desk. Pat tells her, "I've got some good news and some bad news. He's leaving."
Ted then addresses the bailiff, asking him if he was here during the Conrad Murray trial. I believe the deputy responds that he was. Ted tells him, "I saw you on TV."
Mrs. Benson approaches DDA Hum, telling him that jurors were asking her a question about what the various areas of the courtroom are called. He tells her that the wall dividing the gallery from the well is called "the bar." When he describes the prosecution and defense table I thought I heard him jokingly identify it as "counsel chambers" but he probably said "counsel table."
I'm terribly bored and regret not bringing my laptop with me to court. I try to figure out what one of the various items is on the corner of the court reporter's desk. It sort of resembles a hand puppet of some sort, or a partially stuffed animal, possibly a turtle. There is a reclining elephant on the corner of the counter of Mrs. Benson's desk. Craig Hum continues to work at the counsel table. I start to rub my arms since the courtroom is freezing. Either Patty or Ted yawns heavily behind me.
9:43 AM Aron Laub finally arrives. He greets Patty and Ted with, "How are you guys?" Patty responds, "Okay." Laub then goes over to explain to Mrs. Benson about his traffic problems. They discuss traffic for a bit and the recent accident with the Blue Line train. From his seat, Craig jokingly says to Aron, "Do you think I have nothing better than to wait for you Mr. Laub?" Mrs. Benson tells Laub, "I'll let the judge know you're here." Laub goes over and sits beside Craig and the chat for a bit. Not long after, Craig goes over and raids the candy box again.
Now that Laub is here, Brown is brought out. He gives an almost indiscernible head nod to Patty and Ted. Brown is in the standard orange jumpsuit. Underneath, he has on the white long john undershirt. There are black deck-shoe like slippers on his feet. Since I'm a bit closer to the well this time, his beard looks longer to me, It's down to the middle of his chest. His hair is still quite long down his back. I hear Brown say something to his attorney that sounds like, "The jail is making (?) again." Brown and his attorney talk. I believe Patty leans forward behind me, watching her husband. Craig is still utilizing the time to work.
At 9:55 AM, Judge Pastor comes out and asks to see counsel at the bench. I hear Judge Pastor ask Mr. Laub what was the problem. Judge Pastor then tells Mr. Laub what Mr. Hum heard earlier, that he is out of Dept. 107 as of January 1st. There is another statement Judge Pastor made about his leaving but I did not hear it clearly. They continue to talk off the record about coming back before the end of the year. I hear Judge Pastor ask Laub, "You're saying 'Spring;' what does 'Spring' mean?"
When the attorneys leave Judge Pastor's bench, Brown speaks up and asks Judge Pastor one more moment with his attorney. Judge Pastor replies, "Sure." While Brown and Laub whisper, Judge Pastor asks Hum to remind him where they are at in the court calendar for the case. "Eleven of 120," Hum replies.
Judge Pastor finally calls the case to order. BA255206. Laub informs the court there is massive discovery they are still waiting on. It's not from the prosecution, but from the prior firm of Geragos & Geragos. Laub learned a couple of weeks ago that the prior firm overlooked sending him 19 boxes of materials. He received 25 boxes a year ago and a hard drive containing what was in the 25 boxes. Geragos's firm located 9 more boxes in the office and 10 boxes in storage with a professional storage company. The files were discovered during a recent housecleaning at Geragos's firm.
I believe Laub informs the court that he has a lengthy matter in Dept. 102 with that trial set to start on December 7th.
For the record, Judge Pastor states that he informed counsel he's not going to be assigned to this courtroom after the first of the year. When they come back in January, it will be with Judge George Lomeli, whom counsel are both familiar with, for scheduling.
They are about to set a return date, and then Brown speaks up, making a shocking statement that could throw a wrench into the proceedings. "I'm considering going pro per." I'm shocked and astounded that Brown, would make such a drastic decision about his fate after being in custody for almost nine years.
By the tone of Judge Pastor's voice, it appears to me that he is not happy with what he is hearing. Addressing Brown, he speaks passionately and authoritatively, telling Brown, "This will be the stupidest decision you would make in your life." (snip) "You're not going to be getting any more time than I would give Mr. Loab. (snip) Talk to friends. Talk to your family." Judge Pastor goes on about thinking long and hard about this decision. Brown says something else that I miss and Judge Pastor responds, "You're the one who raised the Faretta issue."
I believe Brown asks to come back sooner, like next week. Judge Pastor is happy to accommodate that request but adds in an irritated tone, "Not the way I want to begin my October." Judge Pastor asks about the 9th through the 12th next week. (I want to) "..give you enough time to contemplate.... If you even think..." October 12th is chosen for Brown to return, and the case calendar is set at 0/180 on that date.
Mr. Laub tells Judge Pastor that he's been to see Mr. Brown (three?) times in the past month and two of those visits the jail was on lock down. Another time, there was insufficient time to bring him out. "He sent me three letters, none of which have arrived," Laub states. "I've sent him three books, outdoors type books, and they were sent back." The Sheriff's office has refused to let Laub bring a large amount of transcripts to Brown in jail. If Brown was pro per, they would allow it. Because he's represented by counsel, he's not allowed to have all that documentation.
Laub continues, "I can work with the jail not bringing him 25 boxes of material. I wanted to bring three boxes. (snip) I was told no; only what would fit in the little green bag. (snip) It's essential .... because it's hard for me to get into (see) him. (snip) Chance for me to see him weekly... (it's not happening). (snip) The trial prep is held up by everything I've just described. (snip) (There is a) difficulty of seeing him at the jail."
Judge Pastor responds, "I can't address the issue of lock downs (at the jail). (snip) I don't know what he can or can't ask. (snip) Can I see the order?" I believe it's Judge Pastor who states the Sheriff does have security concerns. He asks Mrs. Benson if she has a copy of the order. There is some confusion as to whether or not Mr. Laub gave the order to Mrs. Benson last week to be signed, and Mrs. Benson tells Mr. Laub that she handed it back to him. He still has it and it's never been signed by Judge Pastor.
Laub explains that he inquired about bringing Brown three boxes and he was transferred to the legal department. I believe this is where Brown speaks up and tells Judge Pastor that he was told by jail legal that if he is in pro per status, he can have it all. The jail legal department said if he wanted to have it get a court order. Brown goes onto explain that there are other people in jail that have all of their documentation and they are not pro per. He feels he's being singled out. I'm amazed the Brown, upset by how he's being treated at the jail would jeopardize his future by wanting to go pro per.
The calendar is set at zero of 180 on October 12th of next week. Judge Pastor states he will sign the appropriate motion and Laub tells Judge Pastor he will bring it tomorrow. Pastor states we will call legal and request the number of boxes.
Judge Pastor then addresses the issue of 'pro per' again. "He should know that pro per is the penultimate (in regards to being at a serious disadvantage) ... and with the sophisticated legal issues involved... yikes." Judge Pastor states that he will get with the jail's legal department.
I believe Laub tells Judge Pastor that prior, Brown did have transcripts in his jail cell. Not complete transcripts but some. Sheriff's seized his paperwork. The jail eventually agreed to release the paperwork back to Laub but not back to Brown. The Sheriff's said it was a fire hazard.
Judge Pastor talks about the said paperwork falling into other defendant's hands, and that is extremely (concerning?). Judge Pastor explains to Brown, that there is concern with his safety,
having the trial transcripts in his jail cell, and the sensitive nature
of the information in the transcripts. (The only thing I can think
that Judge Pastor is referring to, is that Brown is alleged to have
killed his four-year-old daughter, Lauren Sarene Key, and that witnesses have testified as
to Brown's demeanor and alleged indifference that they observed immediately after
her death.) Laub tells Judge Pastor that he has advised his client of the risks involved.
Judge Pastor advises Brown again on the issue of pro per. "Mr. Brown you are a smart person. You've been through two of these trials. (snip) Especially one with such complex legal issues such as this (case). (snip) You will be at a terrible disadvantage if you (decide) to represent yourself. It will be a bad move. (snip) I will do what I can to lessen your frustration."
Brown tells Judge Pastor, "I've had thousands of pages in my cell for years. (snip) I'm being singled out."
DDA Hum brings up a technical issue to Judge Pastor, that Brown has a right to a "trial in 109 days of today's date." Judge Pastor ensures that the court record is correct on that issue. Laub informs the court that he will see Mr. Brown tomorrow.
As I get up to leave, Ted tries to speak directly to me, possibly in an attempt to intimidate me. He says, "Make sure you write it all down." Ted did the exact same behavior in the second trial I covered.
I go out into the hallway to wait for DDA Hum to come out so I can ask him a question. As I'm waiting, I go over in my mind the irritation in Judge Pastor's voice when Brown raised the possibility of going pro per. He was not happy.
(It's my opinion that if Brown does make the fateful decision to represent himself, it would truly be a suicidal move on his part. Sprocket.)
Kelly Soo Park
As I'm waiting on the bench for DDA Hum to exit Dept. 107, I see a man at the far end of the hallway, waving an arm over his head. Is he signaling at me? Who could that be I wonder, since I can't make out who it is. I cannot wait to get my new glasses so I can see distances again. I'm hoping they will be ready by the end of the week. I get up and slowly walk towards the other end of the hall as the man makes his way towards me. It's CBS 48 Hours producer Greg Fisher, who I met last year covering the James Fayed case.
As I walk with Greg down to Dept. 109, I explain why I missed the Park hearing. When I get down to that end of the hallway, I see that all the attorneys are still there as well as some of Park's entourage. Park's new boyfriend ( former Oxnard Police Department Patrol Watch Commander, Tom Chronister) is standing in the hallway chatting with some of Park's supporters. As I step inside Dept. 109, Park is right there, standing inside the courtroom. I ask Greg when the next pretrial hearing is and it's Kelly who answers my question with "October 17th."
When DDA Eric Harmon and his new co-council, Stacy Okun-Wiese, step out into the hallway, the reporters (two Dateline producers, Fisher and myself) surround him to ask him about the hearing. Harmon basically tells everyone to read the three motions that were filed because the moving papers will explain everything.
I was able to obtain copies of the motions and upload them to my SCRIBD account. You can access them via the Kelly Soo Park Quick Links page under the heading 'Documents.'
One motion is about presenting 1101(b), prior bad acts witnesses to testify about uncharged conduct by the defendant. This motion is interesting. The prosecution is asking Judge Kennedy to admit testimony from two other witnesses that they allege Parks and Ronnie Chase intimidated and threatened that had ongoing disputes with Dr. Uwaydah. What's interesting about this motion (for me) is that part of the arguments use the California Appellate ruling in the Phil Spector case.
The second motion is asking Judge Kennedy to initiate an inquiry of Park's new counsel regarding a possible conflict of interest. According to the moving papers, "As the people have previously alleged and proven, there is reason to again believe that the defendant's representation in this matter is funded, at least in part, by her former employer (and possible suspect) Dr. Munir Uwaydah."
The third motion is an opposition to the defendant's motion to compel discovery.