Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Trial: Jury Selection, Day 2

 Kelly Soo Park in 2010 before she made bail.

UPDATE 11:30 PM spelling, clarity
I am finally home. I’m beat tired. That was an exhausting experience, and I only attended less than half of it.  I can just imagine how the jurors were doing.

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Jurors ordered back at 10 AM. Not sworn in yet. Counsel and defendant stand for the jury leavingJudge Kennedy is tired. Everyone ordered back at 9:00 AM.  Defense has a copy of a court case to hand to the court. It's US case, Holmes v. South Carolina. (I believe I have that correct.)

4:12 PM 3:03 PM
Back on the record.  Chronister flips through a magazine as the jury enters.

Need to fill seat #1  A young woman.  Her husband was arrested for DUI 13 years ago. Has a neighbor who is in LE.  Senior evidentiary assistant with the state bar of Calif.  We administer the bar examination. Audit files to ensure staff performing their duties accurately.  Ensure work flow is going smoothly. Job 12 years.  Defense.  Has no legal training herself.  Never served on a jury before. Has not heard anything about the case.  Married. 3 children. Nothing about the case would cause her concern being on the jury.  Don’t watch much TV, involved with her children. Any feelings about DNA evidence.

People. Husband is a track inspector for the railroads.  3 kids. When husband was boyfriend had a DUI. He knew he was guilty.  Doesn’t watch any crime shows. Not concerned about graphic evidence. No concerns abut siting as s juror. Pass for people. Pass for defense

Excuse juror #9.

A white man gets up. Dressed in polo shirt. 20 years ago he was assaulted when going home. (His language, he has an accent, but I can’t place it. French?) He was not hurt; his wallet was taken. No one was arrested.

Acounts manager in sales. Wife teacher for LAUSD. He has served before on a homicide case. Jury reached a decision. Defense. Sales for cargo space in the belly of an aircraft.  No friends family in law enforcement.   He has one reservation, is that his son’s graduation on June 6th. It is local, at City College.   Judge Kennedy assures him that he will make that if he’s chosen on this case.

Sat on a jury in homicide three years ago. No concerns about sitting on a jury in homicide case and seeing gruesome photos.  He has watched crime shows in the past, but watches more sports.  Who’s going to win the game?  Exactly.

People. He also has a daughter at NYU and son graduating high school.  Brother in law five years ago convicted for DUI. Spent night in jail.  He’s clean today, no other issues with the law.  He did not go to court with him. BIL did not talk about it.  Wife teacher in LAUSD.  Thinks he understands fully what he was trying to convey.  People accept.  Defense accepts he panel.

WE HAVE A JURY!  Now, alternates.

Judge Kennedy says we will select four alternates.  Four men are called.

Judge Kennedy asks them if they know what the role of an alternate juror.  #4 says, If something wrong, they can replace them.  Judge Kennedy explains that it’s like being the first runner up in the Miss Universe pagent.

Judge Kennedy asks if they can serve.  #2 is probation officer. Says he would side with prosecution.  He has a bias.  Consider’s himself a peace officer.   Officer says 852 (I think.)  Judge Kennedy excuses him for cause.

#2 is relpaced with a tall white haired white man who looks like Det. Rick Jackson with more hair.

Alternate 1 has nephew who is an LAPD officer.  Works central or Rampart. Ex-wife’s uncle was charged with murder. “Oh, he killed a person.”  I don’t know if he was convicted or not.  Does not know the outcome of the case.  You’re not in touch with him anymore?  He died.

He was held at gunpoint for his vehicle.  15 years ago. Didn’t catch anyone. He got it car back in good condition. 

#2 Former LA Co Deputy Sheriff.  He’s currently a civilian employee at a correction facility.  Would your job affect your ability to be fiar.  It may.  If it comes down between a deputy or a witness with the defense, I will side with an officer.  Challenges him on his assertion that he would always side with an officer.  He says, “Officer’s don’t have anything to lie about.”

#3 Has a relative in law enforcement I think, or in jail. I missed it.  Has a heavy Spanish accent.

#4 None of the questions apply to him. No friends or family in LE or had an incident with police.

#1 miss job. Wife housewife.
#2 Former custody assistant for Sheriff’s dept. Divorce. Never been empaneled. Has a question.  He lived four blocks from the crime scene. He recalls the case. Doesn’t remember the exact facts at the time.
#3 Works in deli services.  Wife is a ?
#4 MTA bus mechanic. No spouse, or jury service.

Defense. Question to former sheriff about tending to believe, side with police officers.  “Unless they have something to lie about, I just don’t know.” 

#3 Clarifies what area he lives in.

#2 Something about client’s face stuck out at him, and then he remembered it must be the case on Centinela.

#1 Does watch cop shows. He watches his wife’s nieces, so he has a lot of free time. 

Buehler continues to question the alternate jurors.

#3 Is not sure he has a clear understanding of all the procedures and explanations.  Thinks he might have a hard time understanding when testimony is given.  Lived in LA 35 years.

#4 This would be a vacation for him. His job is a bus mechanic. He’s single. Except #2, the rest have not heard about the case before being in the courtroom.

#4 Is single, no kids.  #1 has one child.

#3 is not sure he understood about types of evidence.  He works in a Costco, deli service.  He speaks to coworkers in Spanish. He’s married and has children.  He tries to speak to them in English. He went to school in Mexico.

#4 Doesn’t have any concerns about being an alternate.
#1, same thing other than he wuld rather be with his nieces.   Feels better that he would not have to decide penalty phase.

Defense would like to be heard at sidebar.

Judge Kennedy excuses alternate #2 & alternate #3

New #2 Asian woman
New #3 Asian woman
She heard some of the explanation but not sure she understood. She’s from China. Been in the US 26 years. Had no education here in the US.  She went to adult school in the US to learn English. She had a job 14 years ago.  No children.  Feels she understood maybe half of the proceedings.

#3 Understood the proceedings and the job of an alternate. He had son who had a friend who committed crime, but it was in Taiwan.  Her English and understanding is much better.

#3 Employed by county of LA. She processes claims for special funds. Part of job is to settle the third party liability for indigent patients.  Has direct contact with attorney’s office.  She’s been doing that for two years. Worked for county for five years.

Counsel will stipulate for Alt #2. 

Alt 2, Woman with red hair.
She could do the alternate’s job. No questions applied to her. Customer service agent for a major airlines. Significant other is retired from the school district. No prior jury experience.

Defense. #2 knows nothing about this case. Feels she can be a good alternate in this case.  Has not heard anything about the case that would give her concern. #3 Are you interested in being a jury? I’m not interested, but I have to.  But if chosen, would do a good job. 

People.  #3 Understood the concepts she spoke about yesterday. # children 1 girl, two boys.  #2 Understood concepts, doesn’t watch TV shows because she works nights. Both no concerns about defendant being a emale.

Peremptory with people.  People accept the alternates.

Defense excuses alternate #3


1 White woman
2 Man, possibly Latino
3 Woman, Black
4 Male, white banker
5 Woman, white
6 Woman, possibly Latino
7 Woman, Black
8 Male, white balding
9 Male, white
10 Male, white balding
11 Man, Black
12 Male, possibly Latino

Defense will excuse Alt #1

Alt 1 wakes up. He must have been asleep.”OH!” Laughter in courtroom.

New Alt #1, Attorney.  White male, bald. 20 years ago, he was mugged twice.

Defense. He always gets kicked off a jury. He’s not a trial lawyer. If he sat as a juror, he would bring his legal experience to this case. He has experience preparing witnesses for trial.  Thinks he could be fair, but not interested in being a juror.  His income is based on the number of billable hours.

People excuse Alt 1.

White woman new Alt 1.
Has relatives who are in police department in Bakersfield.  Sister was arrested 2o years ago.

I take a break from transcribing. My fingers feel numb.

People and Defense accept the alternates!  We have a full panel!

Kelly is wearing flat black and white snakeskin shoes.  A white blouse tan slacks and a gray sweater. Her attorney stopped to speak with her for a moment before he left the courtroom on the break.

The jurors and family have left the courtroom. I move to the back row to charge my computer.  Park leaves the defense table to sit with Chronister in gallery.

1:35 PM
Inside the courtroom on the left side behind the bailiff’s desk.  Luz, Lonce and Terri Keith are here with me from the press.

1:38 PM Court in session.  Kelly stands and faces the jury. She has a serious expression on her face.  Buehler and his jury consultant smile and the jury enters.

The former military man is excused.  A black woman is called and Judge Kennedy begins to ask her initial questions.  She’s an IT administrative analyst.  She’s been on a jury before. I’m a project manager for a high school district.  Anything that has to do with ID and upgrading their network. She has a son. Has not heard anything about the case outside the courtroom. She had prior jury experience in a murder case, four years ago.  Questions about that experience that might give her preconceptions here. She doesn’t watch any of the shows he’s mentioned. She’s an HGTV fan. Asking her if she will keep an open mind.

Okun-Wiese asks her about her experience looking at crime scene photos in the trial she served on.  She didn’t have a problem with that and her prior jury experience was a positive one.

People excuse juror #10, a woman.

Next juror he served on a civil investigative grand jury. He enjoyed that experience. He served on a rape case and that case he reached a verdict.  He’s retired. university professor in engineering. His ocupation was as an engineer in aerospace.  Wife is a professor of fine arts.

Served on a criminal case and several civil cases, all reaching a verdict.  Buehler asks him about his experience on a grand jury.   The grand jury was investigating prisons in the Los Angeles area and that they were operating fairly to prisoners. The rape case was eight years ago.  It was a satisfying experience.  Hasn’t heard anything about the case outside the court. 

Prosecution asks more questions about the grand jury experience and what it entailed. It involved many groups, one group involved visiting jails.  The grand jury was the most recent jury service.  Questions about how many children, three, and DNA. He doesn’t know anything about DNA. 

Defense excuses juror #9.

A black woman is called and Judge Kennedy questions her. She worked as a victim witness coordinator for the city of Los Angeles.  Explains what all that entails. Sometimes they even help people arranging funerals and burials.  Judge Kennedy asks how she got into that line of work. She used to work for the DA’s office as a legal assistant.  She then worked with the City as a financial investigator.

She would represent the city in small claims court. She’s retired now. If not here, what would she be doing. She would be traveling or taking water aerobics.  Judge Kennedy says, “That sounds like a nice life.” She’s not familiar with the case.

She had a great nephew who was murdered.  Her niece left a 2 year old with a boyfriend and he murdered the child. Never served on a jury. Judge Kennedy is surprised. You work for the City and we’ve never had you serve on a jury?  They never picked me.

Buehler questions her about her prior work experience and what type of investigative experience she did.  She explains that the police would do the investigation, not her.  Says she’s not biased against police officers.

Prosecution questions about why she left the victim witness coordinator position. She was promoted.  In that job, she stayed with a victim’s case from beginning to end.  Her great, great, great nephew was murdered.  The case went to court but she did not attend the trial. She was working.  She has a son. Never sat as a juror.  Has no concerns about circumstantial evidence.  Understood the crime charged. 

People pass for cause.  Defense passes. People accept the panel.  Defense thank and excuse #11. The teacher gets to go back to her class.

A bald black man takes seat #11. Has a friend that is an ex-sheriff, since high school. The sheriff is retired.  His borther is in jail. For drugs and had trouble with the law all his life. He thinks his brother was treated fairly.  His Aunt keeps in touch with his brother more than he does.

He’s a warehouse (?) at LAUSD. Has worked on a jury and it reached a verdict.  Buehler asks about the sheriff friend.  They were classmates. Other standard questions that were asked of other jurors.  Asks if the fact that Ms. Park is Korean, and if that would affect him. No.

Prosecution. His brother is currently in jail and he doesn’t talk to him at all. Doesn’t know what his brother has gone through in court.  Criminal case he sat on was five years ago. Assault case.  Has two children, girls.  Asks about the fact that the defendant is a woman. No concern.  Doesn’t watch TV shows. He’s a sports person.

Peremptory is with the people.  People accept.  Defense. excuses #5.

Older man with white hair, glasses and beard. No connection to law enforcement.  Judge Kennedy questions.  Media relations director for Cal State Fullerton. Wife on faculty for another university.  Sat on a criminal trial in another state.  It was a minor felony.  Defense: She’s in the journalism school.   He believes in the vigorous give and take of the jury system.  He won’t accept a ready answer for something. I remember they didn’t have any clarity as to what this case this was. But some facts have jogged his memory. 

People.  His job involves spin. He spins the news on behalf of the university.  He’s not a journalist. Previously from New Jersey and was on at least one other case.

Has no concerns about the issue of motive.  Understands difference between circumstantial and direct evidence. Has three daughters. Graphic photographs are unpleasant but necessary. People pass, defense pass, peremptory is with the people.

People accept the panel.  Defense excuses juror #4, a woman.

A tall handsome white silver haired well dressed suited man takes #4 seat. Judge Kennedy questions.  Bank executive. No prior jury experience.  In the midst of a divorce. Spouse was not employed.  As a bank executive, can you afford a month away.  His employer will pay his salary, but he will suffer some compensation losses. He thinks that once he’s made a commitment he’ll stick with it.

The only one that would fall into the category would be The Good Wife.  He’s very clear that it’s TV.

People. Divorce is ready for the purple stamp.  He’s been called or several times but never chosen. Has no concerns about sitting as a juror in this case.  Understood the examples about circumstantial verses direct evidence. And that motive would not be an element and not provided would be okay with that.  People excuse #5.

A woman with big red hair is called. Judge questions her standard questions.  She has prior criminal jury experience, a burglary. Jury reached a decision. Defense. Works for the Department of Social Services.  She’s in customer service at the moment.  She determines their eligibility for the services.  No friends or family in law enforcement.  Has four children. Had not heard anything about this case.  She does watch the news.  People. Doesn’t have family or friends who have ever been arrested.  The case she sat on was over 12 years ago. 

People pass. Defense pass. Defense excuse juror #1.

A Latino woman is called.   Do you have common sense? I don’t know what that means.  Judge Kennedy explains. “I can try.”  The juror says she didn’t know how to answer a question. She says she gets tongue tied.   Are you a little bit nervous? Yes. Judge Kennedy says, “I don’t know why I have that effect on people, but I do.”  She emigrated from Mexico.   Judge Kennedy goes to great length to explain the process and if she thinks she can do that.  “I’ll try.”

Defense. She is not interested in serving as a juror on the case.  She’s not familiar with DNA. Doesn’t watch TV much. She watches the Disney channel. Judge Kennedy adds, that’s because of the five kids.  She does like to watch CSI.   She has some uncertainty as to how well she would serve as a juror.  Asks if she ever went to school for English. She graduated high school.  Went to school in English since six years old. Never sat on a jury before.

People. Asks difference about types of evidence and she didn’t understand. She’s understood some of what was discussed yesterday.  All through her years, she was in special education classes.  Says she’s okay with viewing graphic photographs.  Her husband will take care of children. He works from 4 pm to 2 AM.  People pass for cause.  Defense asks to approach. Sidebar.   People thank and excuse juror #1.

Juliana's mother, Patricia, joins the group in the middle of the hallway.  Patricia is a slender woman with curly blond hair that is currently coiffed into a french bun. The few times I've seen her at court she's worn flat shoes but she always looks polished. Two other women join the group.  DDA Okun-Wiese, her clerk and Det. Thompson join the group.

I'm back on the 9th floor.  Once a jury is empaneled then they will need to select six alternates.  Each side gets 20 peremptory challenges for selecting the 12 jurors.  They will get six peremptory challenges for selecting the alternates.  Since the announcement from the courts PIO that opening statements will start at 9:00 AM tomorrow, it's an unknown question when those outstanding motions will be heard.

Down the hall a ways, I see some of the family of Juliana Redding.  Her father Greg is there, and older gentleman with gray hair, a middle aged woman with very short blondish hair and a young man.  Park, Chronister and a few of Park's defense team stand just a few feet away.  Park and her team walk down towards the other end of the hallway.

UPDATE 12:03 AM 
The people accept the panel of 12 jurors. Judge Kennedy asks the defense.  Buehler asks the judge for a break to discuss over lunch.

I’m inside Dept. 109.  There are 12 jurors in the box and questioning continues as both sides use their peremptory challenges.  Judge Kennedy starts off the questioning of each new juror that enters the box when one is excused.

Buehler asks a new entry to the box, “How do you feel about being here.”  He answers that he wants to be here.  He is a driver for disabled veterans for the VA.  He used to be a MTA driver and he found out the hard way that he’s not the one who is supposed to enforce the MTA fare.  Judge Kennedy asks, so then if I get on and don’t pay, I can ride?  Laughter.

Okun-Wiese asks him about the TV shows he watches. He doesn’t watch crime shows. He does watch Downton Abbey.  He’s asked about viewing graphic crime scene photos.  He does mention that TV isn’t real.

A new juror takes an empty seat and Judge Kennedy asks if any of the previous issues discussed apply to him. He mentions his brother arrested for arm robbery.  He has no connection to law enforcement.  Judge Kennedy explains that he’s not allowed to do private investigation about the case. He’s a retired army officer. Judge Kennedy asks, as a retired army officer, if you were not here in court, what would you likely be doing. “I’d be at home, or playing golf.”  Buehler gets up to question.  Asks if being a juror involves some persistence and keeping an open mind.  He agrees.  Buehler asks if he watches the news and if he’s heard anything about this case.  He does watch the news but doesn’t recall.  Buehler asks about TV.  He doesn’t watch ever TV. Some cable TV, history channel.  He reads non-fiction, historical type things.  Okun-Wiese asks if he has any questions about circumstantial evidence.

A different juror is excused by the people and another juror enters the box. It’s a woman; she’s a teacher. She knew someone that was murdered, a friend who was stabbed by a girlfriend in the heart.  She gets emotional, crying, recounting the event.  She knows a lot of cops in her hometown. She knows a lot of good cops and there are bad cops too.

Judge Kennedy asks if that situation, event, even though you are emotional, would that affect her decision in this case.  She doesn’t think so. They are different events.  Buehler questions her if serving on a murder trial would be a particularly painful experience because of the past event.  He asks her about TV shows.  She watches Castle, some mysteries and comedies.  Questions as to whether or not she can stick to her opinion or be swayed by others.

Okun-Wiese asks if she said she would rather be in the classroom.  She asks the juror about the other cases she served on, that she did not have to deliberate.  And about the time spent on a trial and the dedication to the seriousness of the court system.

Peremptory challenges continue to be used and new jurors enter the box.

UPDATE 11:08 AM 
I'm in the ante chamber, listening to voir dire. Tom Chronister passed me and entered the courtroom.  Park looked back to him when he entered.

UPDATE 11:01 AM 
Terri Keith from Citi News stops by to see what's happening in the case. A peek into Dept. 109 from the ante chamber reveals there are jurors in the jury box.  A notice from the court Public Information Office states opening statements will start tomorrow at 9:00 AM.

The bailiff called the jurors into Dept. 109.  The hallway is almost completely empty.

Correction: It may not have been 60 numbers the clerk read out earlier.  I do not know how many jurors were dismissed at the end of the day yesterday.  There are about 40 people in the hallway at the moment.

UPDATE 10:08 AM 
The jurors who showed up this morning cannot be brought inside the courtroom until everyone called for jury duty in the case has arrived. Buehler is down at the center of the hallway on his cell phone.  The bailiff comes outside to call the juror numbers again. Once a decision has been made on those four, then they can bring this group inside Dept. 109. 

Two more jurors show up for Dept. 109.

After the clerk called a list of over 60 jurors, six are missing.

Out in the hallway, Judge Kennedy's clerk is calling juror ID numbers to verify all potential jurors are here before they enter Dept. 109 as a complete group.  In Los Angeles County Superior Court, the juror's name is never used.  Only the last four digits of a long juror number is used to identify jurors.

The bailiff, Sean explains to the family and Tom Chronister where he can sit. The rest of the press is ejected.  Sean tells me not to go far in the hallway because as soon as seats open up, we will be allowed in.

Defense attorney George Buehler arrives. He's wearing light beige suit with yellow tones and a white shirt. I missed seeing his tie.  He's currently having a chat with Okun-Wiese.  Judge Kennedy has been off the bench for a few minutes.  Court is waiting for one more defendant in another case to be brought into the courtroom for a pretrial hearing.  9:29 AM The defendant is just brought out. Buehler quickly leaves the courtroom. The hearing is quickly over, and I hear Judge Kennedy discussing with her clerk about jurors that didn't show before she goes back into chambers.  Buehler reenters Dept. 109 and speaks with the court reporter for a moment.  I forgot to mention that Luz from NBC Dateline arrived earlier.  There is an Asian woman who was in the gallery yesterday and here today that might be with the press. 

Park and Tom Chronister arrive and sit in the back row near the door, beside the two female defense assistants.

Members of Julia Redding's family enter and sit in the second row.  Juliana's parents Patricia and Greg are here along with five other people. 

DDA Stacy-Okun-Wiese enters with her clerk.

The two women on the defense team that came to court yesterday just entered the courtroom and take a seat in the back row.  I don't know if they are additional counsel or jury consultants.

I’m finally on the 9th floor of the downtown Criminal Justice Center.  There never seems to be enough time in the morning to get ready.  Mr. Sprocket had pulled a muscle in his neck from replacing the front axle on my car over the weekend, and he asked me to try to work on his neck a bit before I left for court.  Getting to court on time has been hampered by a serious injury to my big toe over a month ago.  It’s been painful as well as a visual comedy trying to run to catch the bus or train.  The truth is, I need to plan my time better.

8:44 AM
Inside Dept. 109, I’m the only journalist inside the courtroom.  The only person in the well is Detective Thompson, wearing black pants, a white shirt with thin gray pinstripes.  Her light, red-toned hair is like I’ve often seen it, pulled back in a french braid.  Right now she is speaking to the bailiff.   There are other attorneys who are in the well for a pretrial hearing in another case.  Lonce LaMon arrives and says hello. 

The bailiff comes over to tell us that the only thing that will happen this morning is jury selection.  He also told us family members will take priority over the press.  Once family is seated, when more seats open up we will be allowed in. He was not aware of any motions being argued.  Det. Thompson comes over and tells us that jury selection was pushed back to 9:30 AM because of other hearings.  She doesn't know if counsel will argue motions this morning.  I decide to stay inside the courtroom until asked to leave because the hallway is packed with potential jurors from several courtrooms.
5:45 AM 
Jury selection will continue today in the murder trial of Kelly Soo Park in downtown Los Angeles.  Park is charged with 187 felony murder in the death of Juliana Redding. The case is being presided over by Judge Kathleen Kennedy, Dept. 109, on the 9th floor of the Clara Shrotridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Outstanding issues are several motions filed by defense attorneys George Buehler and Mark Kassabian Monday morning.  The people still need to file a formal response to these motions.

Also outstanding is Judge Kennedy's ruling on whether a defense expert witness in audio recordings can tell the jury his expert opinion on what he believes he hears John Gilmore say in a police interview-room video. On Friday, Judge Kennedy made a request to counsel for California case law on the "critical listening" technique of the defense sound expert.  In the US, case law is set when an appellate court rules on the admissibility of evidence decided in the trial court level.

I will have an update after 8:00 AM PT.


Anonymous said...

Sprocket, does there seem to be much interest in this case in the Korean community? Reporters? Trial watchers? Or is it too early in the trial to tell?


blackguyj2009 said...

Korean women in general, and especially American-Korean too are very beautiful and honorable. I'm sure that she has brought a lot of shame on the Korean community. She's unusually tall for a Korean.

Sprocket said...

Mary, I think it's too early to tell. I am getting a small amount of traffic from Seoul.

I believe there is one Asian journalist here, but I haven't spoken to the woman, so I'm not positive.

Anonymous said...

Amazing job so far, the most comprehensive insightful stuff out there. GREAT WORK!

Anonymous said...

Great job so far!!!!

Sprocket said...

The young Asian woman who I thought was a journalist is just a spectator who said she was interested in the case.

Anonymous said...

You're doing a brilliant job. Feels like we're right in the courtroom with you.

Anonymous said...

wow thank you! i will wait for upcoming post!! great job!

Anonymous said...

Only just come across your blog because of an interest in this case. Awesome work, really. Thanks a lot for doing this.