Cameron Brown, left, Lauren Sarene Key, 4, right
Wednesday March 18, 2015
Prescreening of jurors starts today in the third trial of Cameron John Brown. Brown, a former baggage handler for American Airlines, is charged with felony murder in the November death of his four year old daughter, Lauren Sarene Key. Prosecutors allege Brown threw Lauren off of Inspiration Point, a 120 ft. cliff because he hated the child's mother and the child support was a financial burden, approximately 40% of his salary.
Judge Lomeli has ruled that I can live blog and tweet the trial. I will occasionally have postings on my Twitter feed, but most of the trial coverage will be here.
Earlier in Dept. 107, there was a pretrial hearing in a three defendant case. Terri Keith from City News was here to cover that. I can't say it enough. Terri is an amazing reporter, easily juggling the reporting on over 40 cases at a time.
DDA Hum and his assistant arrives. A minute later, Brown's wife Patty arrives and sits in the gallery.
Off the record, the bailiff informs DDA Hum that they will be starting in about five minutes. I'm trying to decide on a hashtag for the case on Twitter. #CameronBrown3rdTrial is a bit long.
Earlier, the bailiff set up additional chairs in the well as well as against the back wall of the gallery. I move to the last plastic chair against the wall beside the courtroom doors.
Defense attorney Aron Laub arrives.
The bailiff asks the gallery to leave while they try to get as many jurors in the gallery as possible. The benches clear up and I'm able to take a seat.
There are a few straggler jurors, but they are finally all in Dept. 107 and the left wing hallway is empty except for myself and Patty Brown.
The bailiff calls myself and Patty Brown back into the courtroom.
Judge Lomeli takes the bench. The court is called to session. Judge Lomeli explains to the jurors the court day. 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.
The attorneys are under the judge's admonition not to speak to you or even smile back to jurors. The court explains that even simple communication of "nice tie" is not allowed. They are not to speak to anyone in the hallway because that may be a witness or a family member. Judge Lomeli informs them about our elevators and how they are packed and to be aware of that.
Case is People v Cameron Brown charged with one count of murder for financial gain and lying in wait. Introduces the defense attorney and then DDA Craig Hum. Introduces the DDA Intern, Danielle. I miss her last name.
Death of a 4 year old luren sare key who plunged to her death overlooking the ocean. Lauren died in the company of her biological father. The prosecution condented he took her on a hike and threw her off a cliff. The defense contents she slipped and fell. Defense contends he loved lauren and wated to spend more time with her.
Judge explains the jury visit and that buses will be used to take them to the alleged crime scene.
They will provide a box lunch.
Court now explains the questionnaire. Explains that more jurors will come in tomorrow and the same thing will happen with them that's happening today.
The court is explaining voir dire to this group of jurors. Juge Lomeil explains the witness list on the questionnaire and why it's so long. It could just be names that will be mentioned in trial. Not all names will be witnesses.
Judge explains that they know all about the website, "How to get out of jury service dot com."
Judge Lomeli tells the jurors about famous people that have tried to get out of jury service. One of the members of the Eagles was in another Judge's courtroom. Judge Lomeli tells the panel that he is a big fan of the Eagles, and asked the judge for a copy of the witness list.
Court: There are men and women who put their lives on the line every day so that we have these freedoms. Where else in the world do you have 12 people, that decide if someone is innocent or guilty. This is a sacrifice. "Although most people equate jury service with going to the DMV, I don't see it that way,"
After instructing the jurors on jury service, those with hardships are asked to wait outside. Those who have no issues are asked to take a questionnaire and fill it out then return it in the box.
Judge explains to counsel about some possible excuses. Explains to counsel the same thing will happen tomorrow. Now waiting for bailiff to bring in the jurors one at a time.
Off the record, Judge Lomeli asks the DDA's clerk where they are going to law school and if they will be with the case the entire time.
First excuse has a litany of health issues. Both people and defense excuse the juror. Second juror has sleep apnea. Had a family member who fell to their death, a sister. Excused.
Next juror, anxiety attacks. Laub asks for more questioning. Ordered back. Next juror is 79. Legally, she doesn't have to serve. Excused.
Another juror with sleep apnea. Ordered back. Another juror back injury and also in school. People stipulate. Another juror, diabetes and problem with her back. Also takes care of an special needs child.
Next juror has an infection in their kidney and they need the restroom often. Ordered back.
Now excuses for vacation. Trip one day to San Francisco on Monday. Ordered to cancel trip and back on Monday. Next juror a trip back east to celebrate father's 80th. Court asks for the juror's itinerary. Excused.
The line is long for vacation excuses.
Judge Lomeli moves things quickly along with juror excuses for vacation. Most who have documented travel papers get excused.
One juror knew/heard about the case. I missed hearing if they were excused outright. Now hearing about language issues. Two are excused already.
More people are excused for language problems. Next group is work related issues.
One juror is leaving one job and starting another. This juror used to be a litigator for a long time. They might rescind their offer. Excused.
One juror is evaluated on how much work is performed in a particular time frame. That "denominator" is not adjusted for jury service. Court states needs something in writing.
People and defense stipulate. Excused.
One juror is a training officer from her church, has ministers coming in from all over to train. Not excused. Next has an out of state, work related conference. Travel papers presented. Excused.
Next is a fire chief. Coordinating an inter-agency team to present his proposal. Until the juror provides something concrete, not excusing.
The court was sent 94 jurors. They've excused around 34 so far.
A potential juror, an attorney whose partner is also an attorney have child care issue. Court requests documents proving partner's travel on their court cases.
One juror tells the court they don't think a criminal case is the best fit for them. A civil case would be a better fit. Excused.
Another juror has care issues with (their?) mother and their grandson, who is autistic. She volunteers with the grandson's school. Not excused. Next juror also requests a civil trial. Excused.
Of the 90 jurors called, we have 63 left.
Court says we'll be doing it all
Brown looks at his wife and is jestering with his hands to his wife.
Laub brings up a 352 issue with a pror transcript/testimony that Judge Lomeli will have to go through before the jury is sworn in.
I'm back home now. The trial is finished for the day.
After the last juror pleaded being excused for cause, a motion filed by the people to exclude potential defense witnesses was briefly discussed. As soon as I get copies of that motion, I'll post it.
This same process will be repeated tomorrow. I won't be able to attend the prescreening of jurors on Thursday, but I will be back on the case on Monday, when voir dire begins.