Note from Sprocket
This is part two of a series to update T&T readers on all the pretrial hearings in the Lonnie Franklin case on 1/14/16, 1/22/16, 2/5/16 and 2/11/16. There were two hearings in the Uwaydah et. al [aka Kelly Soo Park] fraud case on 1/14 and 2/5. Scroll down to those dates to read what happened in the Uwaydah/Park hearings. Additional note: This entry has not been fully edited for spelling and clarity. Sprocket
The previous post on the Franklin Case can be found HERE.
UPDATE 7/13: Label- Corrected DDA Ma's first name to Keenes
Thursday, January 14, 2016
I’m on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center. There are several counsel in the hallway for the huge insurance fraud, Dr. Uwaydah, Kelly Soo Park case. Most are just familiar faces; I don't know all their names, except for Benjamin Gluck, who is representing defendant Paul Turley. I also see LAPD RHD Detective Daryn Dupree from the Franklin case.
There must be a Park hearing I don’t know about. According to the LA Co. Sheriff's website, Park is not scheduled to return to court until February 26. However, since Park and virtually all the other defendants have filed 977’s with the court, [waiving their appearance] they are not required to appear at any of these pretrial hearings.
Because of the 977 filings, I cannot tell from the Sheriff's website when the next hearing in these various cases occurs.
Inside Dept. 109
I take a seat against the back wall and take in the scene. There are quite a few attorneys in the well. It’s very boisterous. Conversations are going on everywhere. The bailiff calls out, “Attorneys! Please take a seat in the jury box.” Counsel take their time getting into the jury box.
Kelly Soo Park’s husband, Tom Chronister is in the gallery. Defendant Yolanda Groscost, impeccably dressed and coiffed, is also in the gallery, sitting right behind the bailiff’s desk.
The prosecution team for the Franklin case is also in the well. They are not in the jury box but sitting in the extra seats directly in front of it.
I do a head count. There are 13 attorneys in the jury box. I wonder, which case will be first? Which case. Some of the prosecution team on the Uwaydah/Park fraud case are here: DDA’s Catherine Chon, Kennes Ma and DDA Karen Nishita.
Paul Turley's lead defense attorney, Benjamin Gluck is speaking with DDA Ma. DDA Dayan Mathai has not arrived yet. There are people from the DA’s victim support division in the gallery but I don’t see any family members from the Franklin case in the gallery.
There’s lots of conversation and bustle in the well of the court. Too many conversations going on at once to follow any particular one.
It’s still very noisy in here. So many counsel talking at once. DDA Marguerite Rizzo and Detective Dupree’s partner greet each other with a polite hug. I’m kicking myself since I can’t remember his partner’s name.
Kelly Soo Park’s husband, Chronister, is sitting on the long benches a couple rows ahead and off to my right. I can see that he has a note pad and he’s taking notes.
9:04 AM - Kelly Soo Park [Uwaydah et. al] Part I
Judge Kennedy takes the bench and asks, “Which matter?”
An issue with the Uwaydah matter is heard first. The people tell the court that there is a claimant in court asking for access to the grand jury transcripts. The court is told counsel is representing a verified claimant, not a defendant. I try to type the name of the claimant, but I miss some of it. The counsel is actually representing three claimants. I think I hear [Notre Dame Properties, a LLC Holding company] and one other. This counsel was last here on November 4. I believe the counsel is ready to pay for copies of the transcripts. There’s something about affidavits and then the issue appears to be over rather quickly.
The court asks, “Anything else?”
I believe it’s Mr. Gluck who informs the court that the defense is here but they are waiting on the people. DDA Mathai has not arrived.
The court is then informed that the people are here on Franklin but the defense is not. The only defense counsel here is Kristen Gaozawa. Then the attorney for Yolanda Groscost announces that they are here and that their client is also present in court.
Groscost’s counsel informs the court that her Ms. Groscost’s zero of 60 date is fast approaching. They are asking to reset the court calendar on her case to 0 of 60 and waive time until the next hearing, February 26.
There’s a bit more back and forth and then counsel join to reset Groscost’s case clock to 0 of 60 on February 26. The court leaves the bench and Groscost leaves the courtroom.
Franklin defense attorney Seymour Aster arrives.
I overhear a conversation that there will be a presentation of interesting cases for a conference March 1, 2, 3, at The Palms.
DDA Mathias arrives.
9:14 AM - Lonnie Franklin, Jr.
It looks like they are going ahead with Franklin. Franklin is brought out. Bailiff calls for quiet in the courtroom. He tells counsel they will call another case besides Dr. Uwaydah. Seymour Amster and Kirsten Gozawa are here. Ms. Gozawa arrived in middle of Groscost’s hearing.
DDA’s Jamie Castro and Paul Przelomiec move into the well and sit in front of the jury box. Another attorney for the fraud case takes a seat in the jury box. Then another attorney enters the jury box.
The Franklin case is called. Amster and Gozawa state their appearances. As usual, DDA Rizzo speaks for the people and identifies herself and DDA Silverman. The court asks the parties, “Where do we stand at this point on motions?
Amster tells the court they’ve filed their responses [to prosecution motions?]. “Mr. Williams is not available tomorrow or the beginning next week.” There are other experts that have not been officially appointed by the court. However, it’s not been decided yet whether or not some of these experts will testify or not for the defense.
Amster continues, “I believe in the people’s motion they have a concern that he [a defense expert] would testify as a DNA expert. ... He will not. There is an issue on some PowerPoint that he did not create and he will not utilize them. ... Dr. Sowers created [the PowerPoint] ... We will not see him again. ... If there is a particular [issue], for the people, it may be they can [publicize?] it and we can respond. ... Otherwise we feel it should not be addressed until after the people present their case in chief.”
DDA Sliverman responds, “We have no idea what he going to testify to. The entirety of his report is on hearsay.”
There is more back and forth between Amster and Silverman as to whether or not it’s necessary to have a hearing on this potential defense witness. Amster adds that this expert’s testimony, “... is going to be based upon what [Detective] Dupree and others testify on.”
Amster insists to the court that they have not made a decision if they are going to call this witness or not. He says he will have to wait and see what the prosecution presents. The court counters to the defense that this case was filed five years ago. “It’s not like you don’t have a clue about what the prosecution is going to present.” I could swear that Judge Kennedy gives a quick eye roll to Amster’s explanation.
Amster still insists that, “We don’t know if the people’s witnesses are going to try to state that ...” He pauses, carefully selecting his next words. “... If um, Mr. Williams, if he is going to testify at all ... will be concerned about destruction of evidence and what evidence is not available and how that infringes on culpability.”
Judge Kennedy asks, “Has he expressed an opinion in a written report turned over to the people?”
Amster sidesteps that question and replies, “It has to do with evidence being destroyed. The court responds, I understand that some evidence in this case was destroyed, but not [?] by Mr. Williams.” Amster states, “It’s going to be addressed by [Detective] Dupree. ... [There was some] clothing with potential DNA on it. ... just like we harvested DNA on other materials. ... what ... the term that’s not going to be discussed is NHA. [No Human Involved].”
Judge Kennedy replies, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Amster responds, “There have been some comments on this case, that law enforcement didn’t bring in the big guns. ... unless the door is opened in some way by the people, I think the proper way is to approach ...”
DDA Silverman responds, “It’s completely false so why should I go there?” Amster adds, "I think Williams [testimony] is lost evidence and destroyed evidence. ... Only if it's necessary."
I believe the court adds, only if that information was derived from other officers. DDA Silverman replies, "Like we said, that's all hearsay."
Judge Kennedy states, "Well that's not going to come in via Williams. It will only come in through those who collect evidence. ...It also seems like, ... I don't know that you need an expert to tell the jury that items were destroyed and that they may have had evidentiary value." Amster replies, "That's Mr. Williams." I believe Amster adds, do we need it... I don't believe so.
The court replies, "It seems to me, [at] this point, we don't need a hearing." DDA Beth Silverman adds a concern. The court states, "[From] what I've heard now, I don't [need to] hear a witness. ... If your situation changes then I'll hear you. ... I don't see how he figures in." Amster responds, "I'm willing to abide by the parameters before I call him to the stand."
Judge Kennedy moves onto the other defense expert, Dr. [Quell? Correll? I never have gotten this name correct.] issues.
DDA Rizzo addresses the court. "We received the defense motion at 4:00 pm on Friday, followed by two additional motions that evening. ... The people were expecting a response to our motion we filed on November 9, to exclude Mr. [Quell? Corell?]. ... The defense motion is to limit the conclusion of [the prosecution's] firearm examiner and to exclude a test."
DDA Rizzo speaks so quickly, I have a hard time keeping up. There are motions responding to motions. The defense has brought up an entirely new issue that they are injecting into the case. They made a brief reference to it last week, regarding an issue of a 2009 [NAS?] report. Basically this report came out challenging some of the issues regarding various scientific and forensic disciplines, and challenges those disciplines, particularly, evidence involving firearms. There have been scientific challenges. These challenges have not gotten much traction, particularly in state court. The defense is challenging the forensic discipline for firearms and in doing so, the defense is requesting the court to issue an order limiting the conclusions of the people's firearms examiner.
The people are preparing a response to the [basis?] of this motion and will review this over the weekend. The people feel they will potentially be able to litigate that motion just on the papers. If that's the case and the court issues a ruling, they might not need a hearing. If a hearing is needed by the court, it could take up to 10 court days. The people would have to bring in relevant experts from the particular scientific disciplines.
The court asks if there is some state court issue that deals with those issues. DDA Rizzo replies, "No." This is covered by [ballistics experts] in Federal court [cases]. This type of evidence, pattern evidence and forensic analysis is not subject to [Kelly Frye] and that's the people's response. That is why the people think they can just be limited to the papers. The court asks when they will have their response ready. DDA Rizzo replies the middle of next week or the end of next week. DDA Rizzo leans into to speak to DDA Przelomiec and then tells the court they will have it ready when the jurors come back the week of the 25th.
Amster responds, "It is our position there is one issue. The scientific community is divided." The court states, "I don't want to argue the merits today." Amster replies, "That's fair." I believe Amster adds that if the people file their response late next week, whenever it is they will probably be selecting the jury.
DDA Silverman adds, "Again, it looks like when we're going to have to select a jury and send them home and perhaps.... Again, how much time?" Based on what the people's response is, DDA Silverman suggest that maybe they could discuss [this issue?] on the 20th, maybe they could send the jury home for a lot less time that what they think they need.
The court asks, "Are you going to be able to do anything next week?" DDA Silverman responds, We will be ready to do Mr. Williams."
There's more discussion about individuals on [the defense witness?] list and the people want to know the offer of proof with respect to their motion filed on September 14. Next week, the people won't be able to do anything on the firearms issue.
Judge Kennedy tells the parties they want to accomplish next week, what they indicated before, was conferring about the jury that both sides want to eliminate. The parties agree to come back Friday, January 22 next week. "Judge Kennedy states, "I believe we've done all we can do today." The defendant is ordered back tomorrow when they start the voir dire.
The court asks, "Are we ready on Uwaydah?" The reply from the well is, "Yes." Franklin is brought back into custody.
Uwaydah et. al [Kelly Soo Park] Fraud case, Part II
The court goes on the record and the parties state their appearances. DDA's Chon and Mathai state their appearances. Afterwards, it's impossible to catch all the counsels names, who are appearing "977" on behalf of their clients. I catch a few names. Attorney Vicki Podbersky for defendant Maria Turley; attorney Mark Kassabian for defendant Park; attorney Bill Flemming for defendant Jeff Stevens; the attorney for several claimants, insurance companies; a new woman attorney for defendant Terry Luke; possibly a new attorney for defendant Groscost; a new attorney, a black man for defendant Folgar.
The court asks if they have representatives for everyone who they have on calendar today. I believe it's Mr. Gluck who speaks for the group. The issue is the 995 motion. Gluck informs the court that for those defendants who are not on calendar today, he has authority from those counsel who are not here to discuss [the 995 motion].
Another attorney asks that they begin with that issue . The court asks if December 31 was the date that briefs were going to be filed. The reply is yes. However, the defendants were all [prepared?] to join in a manner that [Gluck] had drafted earlier, and then there was a decision to restructure things. There would be a generic legal motion, only then each defendant will be drafting a supplemental [motion] on a date beyond the [generic] legal argument.
The defense is meeting regularly and feel they can file that motion by the end of the month. Judge Kennedy informs the parties that she has been reading the transcripts and she is up to volume nine.
The defense wanted to make the court aware [of where they were] to explore a date for the 995 and file and that the people want three weeks to respond. The court replies, "That sounds great." Working backwards, they want to pick a date in March. The court tells the parties that they would like the date to be a Friday. After much explanation, the date for the 995 motion [arguments?] would be March 25. Working backwards they will figure out a date for the various response filings. March 25 sounds great with the court. Judge Kennedy then asks for the next issue.
Gluck states they have discussed amongst themselves and are working valiantly with the discovery issues. They narrowed it down but for a lot of them, it may be necessary to ask the court for some guidance. If we are somehow left with disagreements, if the court could hear us on Friday, January 29, to resolve many of those problems, then we could shoot for that as a resolution. Gluck would take it upon himself to poll the defense side to take all those issues on [at] the same time. The court replies, "Yes, that would work." A female defense attorney comes over to speak to Gluck. Now they want to change the date.
The court informs counsel about her case about to start trial. Apparently, the court is not willing to "not" have the jurors come in on Friday afternoon. She tells counsel that it has to be motions that can be finished in half a day or less. She will not hold up the Franklin case.
A female attorney steps forward. "I represent Mr. Luke, who is another small player in this game." DDA Chon speaks up and mentions defendants who have waived time and it's getting close the end of their waived time. With a 977 on file, the court can allow counsel to waive time. Every defendant has waived time up to February 26. Even as of the 29th of January, everyone is within a time waiver situation.
Gluck asks, "Might I inform then, if they can file a time waiver in advance, would the court want them to come in?" Judge Kennedy responds, "I like the idea of everyone appearing. ... At some point otherwise, I lose track of who had done what." [So it looks like at this point, the court wants all defendants appearing on February 26.]
The court now asks about a new issue. "What about the subpoenaed record situation?" The defense responds that they have been talking to several recipients. As far as the defense is concerned that issue could be continued over to February 26 because they are not ready yet. I believe the people have no objection to moving those.
There is counsel here for several parties [claimants?] and the court wants to be aware of anything that's progressed with that. The court also adds that there has been a motion to quash. Someone responds that they are asking to hold that in abeyance because they may have resolved that. The court states, "I like that." It's either Gluck or a Mr. [Danowitz? sp?] that would like to put something on the record that may solve the issue.
I believe it's the claimant's attorney who's speaking to the court now.
They discussed insurance code that talks about [?] records that were requested by LE that are subject to subpoenas. Mr. [Danowitz] says that we could get those records from the DA's office. We don't care where we get them from, as long as the DA's office doesn't release them [to the public?].
So as long as they're [the parties] not objecting. We don't want to be stuck with each side [prosecution/defense] saying the other side.
I believe the court asks, "So these particular records, are they already included in the huge amount of discovery already turned over?" Gluck responds, "There's already a lot of discovery turned over. It's not what we were hoping to get so far."
Gluck: There's already been a lot of discovery been turned over. A lot of what we look for is something different from a fraud case.
Gluck: In this case, the DA's office started recording people in their case in 2006. There were recordings from the police department in 2010 and long before that. The alleged fraud date 2011 to 2014, so a relevant question here is ... [someone starts to interrupt] wait a second .... it was all being investigated when it was all being happening. We're asking for the records related to that ... So we don't know whether we've gotten all of that yet. They're [insurance companies?] saying whatever we sent to the DA we can get so we are making....
DDA Mathai responds. "Mr. Gluck [reveals?] in court regarding a dispute with the insurance company. We are not a part of that. [The] content with some of the background of that we don't agree with all this." Mathai agrees to hold this issue in abeyance until February 26. The defense are all afforded [access] to the evidence ... the looking for exculpatory ... we don't want to have to duplicate our efforts. There are some areas of privilege. Suggest they do a document request if we are not able to resolve this informally. We're asking that they look for the documents first.
The court tells the parties, "I don't know if that's going to happen by the 26th. Mr. Gluck replies, "I don't know if we are ever going to say what documents we don't have. ... Discovery is, for various reasons a big challenge in this case. ... It's not as if we are going to have complete product from the people by the 26th. ... [I believe Gluck adds:] I think where this is headed is a statute of liitations, where it [certainly? relevant?] is intent to defraud is an element and since these insurance companies were in contact with [defense?] about these claims, the knowledge of the [victim?] of exactly what was going on is certainly a very important evidence aspect of defending based on lack of intent to defraud or lack of [intent?]."
I could swear the Judge Kennedy rolls her eyes after Gluck's statement.
DDA Ma tells the court that they have a February 26 court date, and that's just for the subopena [return].
I believe the court is either joking or sarcastic when Judge Kennedy replies, "It's going to be a great party. ... What is not going to happen is the argument on the 995 ... the date the party is still on."
Someone in the well states, "In the midst of your jury trial." The court responds, "It's so much fun. So what else can we do today."
DDA Chon tells the court that a defense attorney filed a motion related to the grand jury transcripts to the public. The court instructed the people to serve all parties. We did so. The court asks if all the attorneys have picked up their transcript. The only ones that have not are the defendants at large. The court adds, "So who knows when that's going to happen. ... What is then the probability, if any to the transcripts being made public now. None, right?
The people have no objection. Gluck tells the court, "We don't have objection to the transcripts being made public. .... this would be the transcripts but not the exhibits." Gluck adds, "This is not my problem, my issues ... [about] having patient tests ... about medical procedures they had ... There could be HIPPA issues, but once a witness testifies ... if that's still the case."
Gluck talks more about "redacting the names [of the grand jury witnesses] who are describing their health problems" and "patient protection and witness protection." He adds, "I think it would be appropriate to redact patient names, ... but again, it's not my problem." The court responds, "I don't know that I have the authority to do that. ... I don't think I do." I believe the claimant counsel states that it's their position that it's a public document and if someone sits as a witness, they waive any privacy rights.
Gluck brings it up again. "I raise the issue ... and I think that's informative about later down the road. ... We're going to hear about patient privacy and witness protection."
DDA Mathai adds, "That's a different argument for a different day and I see what Mr. Gluck is trying to accomplish. There are different circumstances at play when a witness testifies in [a] grand jury and there's an obligation for the court and the prosecution [?] to have those documents public."
Judge Kennedy states, "The exhibits are not being released but the grand jury transcripts should be open to the public."
I believe Gluck speaks again about issues down the road and the court responds, "I'm not going to remember what Mr. Gluck says today."
The grand jury transcripts in this case are no longer under seal.
Next, several counsel put on the record, waiving time for several defendants to March 25 and calendar on that date will be zero of 10. The ones I catch/hear speak are counsel for Ronnie Case, Terry Luke, Tony Folgar, and Kelly Soo Park.
And that's if for the Uwaydah et. al [Kelly Soo Park] case. The next hearing date I attend that coincides with the Franklin case is February 5.
Friday, January 22, 2016
8:20 AM - On the 9th Floor
A few minutes later, Detective Dupree arrives. We have a short chat about the upcoming convention for the California Homicide Investigators Association (CHIA).
Victoria Redstall arrives and takes a bench near myself and Detective Dupree. When the individual sitting next to her leaves, she scoots closer on her bench to Detective Dupree because she states she doesn't want to be alone. To me, it felt like she was trying to listen in or join our conversation.
Seymour Amster arrives and enters Dept. 109. A few minutes later DDA Jamie Castro arrives with a new clerk, a tall attractive black man. Next comes DDA Beth Silverman in a beautiful bluish-gray suit. She's pushing a cart with three boxes. DDA Marguerite Rizzo arrives with a rolling cart with two more boxes. These must be all the jury questionnaires.
8:55 AM - Inside Dept. 109
There are quite a few people in the courtroom There is another case that will be called before Franklin. DDA's Silverman and Rizzo are deep in conversation. There are many casually dressed people from the public in the gallery. There are counsel checking in with Judge Kennedy's clerk. Amster steps outside with a tall male DDA who I understand is from the DA's Hardcore Gang Unit. There are two extra deputies hanging out in the back of the courtroom. The bailiff is getting the defense table set up with a wheel-less chair for a defendant. I see at least two defense attorneys in the well at the moment and a third deputy enters the courtroom.
There are so many counsel in the well now, DDA's Jamie Castro and Paul Przelomiec sit in the jury box. DDA's Silverman and Rizzo are in the well side chairs directly in front of them.
Now the bailiff is getting a chair set up for an interpreter. The DA's clerks are sitting in the gallery.
A short Hispanic looking man is brought out. He looks like he's barely out of his teens. A defense attorney asks the clerk if they can go check on another case in another courtroom. The clerk says, "Yes." Another attorney asks if she can go check in with her office. Amster tells the clerk he will just be out in the hallway.
A second defendant is brought out. The bailiff asks those in the jury box to exit the jury box. A minute later, Judge Kennedy takes the bench. The case is called. There is a brief discussion about settlement agreements with both defendants. They are asked if they want to put their cases over one last time to February 19. And that's it. It's over quickly.
A second case is called. DDA Tannaz Mokayef enters with another woman and sits in the back row. This second case may go to Dept. 100 for a trial. The defendant waives time until March 18. Now the DDA states they are adding another charge, so there's going to be a motion and 995 on the additional charge. They will return on January 29. Several bailiff's come forward and go back into the custody area. Several people that might be support staff for the DA's office leave the courtroom. Judge Kennedy leaves the bench.
DDA Mokayef gets up and joins DDA Silverman in the well. There are still a good number of people in the gallery and more people enter and take a seat. I step outside the courtroom for a moment to cough. While I step outside, Judge Kennedy come back on the bench for a restitution hearing in a third case. It's over quickly There's still another defense counsel in the well and all these people in the gallery.
Amster steps back inside the courtroom, sees that Judge Kennedy is off the bench and steps back outside. Another defendant is brought out. People v. Allen. The case is put over to March 4. Defendant's mother is in intensive care and would like to be fore for sentencing. The defendant is brought back into custody and most of the people in the gallery leave. There still are some people here for one more case. Amster is in the back of the courtroom on his cell phone.
The defendant in the next case is brought out. I'll call him Mr. P.
The court addresses the defendant. The Sheriff's Dept. filed a motion to revoke Mr. P's pro per privileges. They submitted a video that, the court believes a copy was given to [Mr. P's] investigator.
Mr. P states, "My investigator didn't come to see me all week. I kind of wanted to see if I could continue this matter. He didn't come see me all week. I made several calls to him. I think this [custody? assistant?] he later spoke to me on Tuesday, and said he was trying to contact my investigator and have him come in."
I believe it's the Sheriff's attorney that addresses the court. They did contact his investigator. The video [for him] was not picked up. It was shown to [Mr. P] and we took him back and played the video for him at the jail.
Theres something else about filing papers, or the defendant wanting to subpoena a deputy sheriff.
Judge Kennedy asks, "Who is it that [he? you?] wanted to subpoena?"
Deputy M,the one who was overseeing the floor at the time. The defendant addresses the court. "The custody assistant allowed me to see the video. The video starts like, after we'd been in the library 15 minutes and it was a quickl little two minute..." Judge Kennedy states, "I've seen it."
Mr. P states, "For my defense, I would have wanted a few minutes [of the video] before and after. ... I understand my position and I know what happened was wrong and I apologize to the court. ... I wasn't an instigator." Judge Kennedy responds, "I agree. ... It didn't look like it was your beef but you couldn't help yourself for getting involved." Mr. P replies, "I told all the other individuals to don't do anything. ... That's where I tried to place a phone call and I was interrupted."
Judge Kennedy replies, "Here's the deal Mr. P. You obviously have the right to [testify?] at this proceeding. You can say under oath, what you're telling me now, can relate to whatever happened before and after. ... The Sheriff's Dept. want me to revoke your privileges based on what happened in these two minutes, not before and after. ... They don't contest what happened before and after. ... I don't see how [that material before and after?] would assist the court in dealing with your issues. ... I'm sure there are times when you have been in the library where you [had not?] gotten in a fight with anybody." .
[My notes are not clear as to who is speaking now.]
Anything that was going on [?] happened Sunday. ... the following morning as soon as they unlock the showers, there was another [altercation] goes on to ... there were Hispanics that flooded some cells.
The court asks, "You're Hispanic but you run with the blacks, [is that correct]?" The defendant verifies that. The court continues, "Your defense is that because there is so much racial tension already, it's not your fault but the fault of the Sheriff's that you were in the Law Library at the same time?" I believe he answers, "No. They're stating they knew about the safety and security [issues]. I didn't want to instigate it."
The court then asks, "So why did you put yourself in that position?" The defendant replies, "It's because what happened to that individual would happen to me. ... I was in a lose-lose situation. ... I've [been] given the law privileges aside from my own pr per status. ... I went to the disciplinary section. I didn't have visits and I didn't have [access to the] store. ... What I did was wrong and I would jsut as the courts to take this in consideration. ... My legal runner can't pick up and drop off papers anymore. It's been a week since privileges have been taken ... or give me additional 30 days without [?]. ... I still desire to go pro per."
Judge Kennedy states, "You have that [right? privilege?] ... Let me hear from the representative for the Sheriff's." Counsel for the Sheriff's replies, "Mr. P admits to this contact. It is on the video that your honor has already reviewed." He goes onto detail what the problem is. "It depicts Mr. P attacking another inmate. Multiple kicks and punches. ... we need to keep the pro per library safe so we're asking to revoke his privileges. ... Defendant insists the incident he talking about happened the Sunday before and Friday was the culmination."
The defendant will be denied pro per library but he is asking if he can still have his legal runner to pick up and drop off papers.
The sheriff's counsel confers with someone, and then responds. If it will be a reasonable accommodation, I believe we can arrange for housing where Mr. P can have access to his legal runner. That seems to be the one issue he's concerned with.
It appears the court is prepared to revoke his law library privileges. It appears its going to be worked out that he will have access to his legal runner. The next hearing is March 11 and his stand by legal counsel is also ordered back. The defendant asks for transcripts from the last hearing. The court replies, "The clerk will make sure you get that before you are sent back." And that's it the defendant is remanded.
10:00 AM - Lonnie David Franklin Case
Judge Kennedy asks, "Are we ready to do Franklin now?" Amster replies, "I am."
DDA's Silverman and Przelomiec pull out the huge stack of juror questionnaires. It's boxes and boxes of questionnaires. I can't imagine trying to read through all those questionnaires. I don't know how they did it. Amster asks for a small sidebar. The court asks to wait until they bring his client out first. I note there are a few people in the gallery, an older man, a young woman and a preteen boy in the back row.
The court tells the parties it's going to be a couple minutes before they can bring Franklin out. Judge Kennedy leaves the bench.
Franklin is brought out. Amster asks for a sidebar. The court asks for counsel briefly at sidebar. I believe I overhear Amster tell the court something about a convention and the convention promoters are asking him to ask the court if he can come to the event anyway. He's tole the promoters that he can't come. He's told them he can't go. It appears to be cleared up and we go on the record. The parties state their appearances.
The court states, "I hope what we can accomplish today, perhaps preliminary agreements on some of the jurors. ... Based on their questionnaires, either that we don't feel they have sufficient language ability to handle the case or that their answer on some of the questions would be sufficient that both sides are willing to stipulate to excusing them, that they can't sit on a death penalty case."
Amster responds first. "Some of them were blank, and they said their language ability. ... I have a hard time stipulating to that. I feel that if someone is [a citizen?] they learned enough English]."
The court replies, "I wish that I could agree with that statement. My experience though, and 27 years doing this job is that you can become a citizen of the US and have very little ability to speak and understand English." Amster reiterates that is just his position.
After a few more comments from Amster, the court states, "Since the communication between the two of you is difficult, this is probably the better way to handle it. ... I don't know if I make suggestions ... or talked about some of those where both sides can agree to save us and save the [?] a lot of time." Amster replies, "I"m willing to [approach? appreciate] the way you'd like to do it."
Judge Kennedy states, "Let's start with the first 10."
And that's what happens. The jurors were numbered 1 through 308. And they went through 10 numbers at a time. Each side stated which jurors they were willing to excuse for cause. The other side either agreed or was not willing, then offered their own juror numbers within that 10, that they would like to see excused. I wrote all of the numbers down, well, most of them but the information is meaningless at this point. It's just jurors that were pre-excused and would not be questioned further.
After they went through all the jurors for stipulations the court goes over what would happen on January 25. "Now on Monday, the first group comes in at 9:00 AM." Judge Kennedy turns to her clerk and asks, "Were there any additional medical [excuses] that came in?" The clerk shakes his head no, but states they had a letter and he goes to find it.
DDA Silverman tells the court, "We have about 20 to 30 people, ... that we don't think can speak English. Are you going to speak to them?" Judge Kennedy assures her, "I'm going to speak to them all. ... I had a letter faxed from [juror] 281." Judge Kennedy details the jurors specific health problems and the court is inclined to excuse the juror for medical reasons. There are no objections to excusing this juror. The clerk tells the court they got a phone call from juror 285. They just got out of the hospital and will not be available January 28. The court states that they need to contact the juror and ask if they can fax the court something from a doctor.
Judge Kennedy asks, "Is there anything else to take up at this time?" DDA Silverman tells the court that she filed three motions today. There is discussion between counsel and the court for how the week is going to go, what they hope to accomplish by Thursday, and possibly do motions next Friday. Amster states he just got the people's response for the motion on [Carell? Quell?]. He would like 48 hours after voir dire to do his response.
The court asks, "Is there anything we can do on Friday? If not, I'll have jurors come back on Friday. ... I think we should have jurors come back on Friday with regular voir dire." The will come in at 10 on Friday.
DDA Rizzo tells the court that what they filed today was a revised motion. Amster asks the court, "I don't know if the court wants me to respond yet." DDA Silverman states, "We're planning on having a trial hearing on the week of the 8th." Amster responds, "The people have filed a points and authorities of crime victim rights of attendance. ... There might be a particular witness ... I'd like to reserve the right if a particular member of the victims family should be present during [the testimony of another] witness ... that's during the guilt phase. ... For the vast majority, we're not going to be opposed."
The court asks, "Have we exhausted what we can do at this point?" Amster brings up one more point. "Mr. Atherton is in trial in Long Beach. He will not be here on Monday. It won't delay anything. ... [I am] prepared to proceed."
I note that Amster's body language, his arm moving is all over the place while he's talking to Judge Kennedy. It's something about baseball, and he's laughing as he's talking, as usual. It didn't make any sense to me. The court leaves the bench and that's it. Everyone starts to pack up.
I will not be here Monday through Thursday for this part of voir dire. I wait for the DA's to get their boxes and forms all organized. While I'm waiting, I observe a young man sitting in the far back corner of the gallery get up and walk toward the jury box. It looks like he snapped a photo of the empty jury box with his phone. I could be totally wrong about what I just saw, but that's what it appears like to me. The DA's are engaged with getting their boxes packed up and don't see it. The bailiff doesn't see it.
And that's it for this hearing.
January 25 through February 2 - Lonnie Franklin Case
On January 25 through January 28, four panels of jurors were questioned strictly about their ability to sit on a death penalty panel. On Friday, January 29th, jurors were brought back for regular voir dire. Court sources indicated to me that at the end of the day on Friday, a 12 jury panel was seated. In the morning on Monday, February 1, those 12 jurors were sworn in. By Monday afternoon, 8 alternates were selected and sworn in.
Friday, February 5, 2016
I'm on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center. Down at the other end of the hallway, camera crews have shown up for two cases that will have sentencing today.
In Dept. 106, Ka Pasasouk is scheduled to be sentenced to death for the first degree murders of four individuals [Teofilo Navales, 49, Robert Calabia, 34, Jennifer Kim, 26, Amanda Ghossein, 24] outside a Northridge boarding house on December 2, 2012. In Dept. 107, Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng will be sentenced to 30 years to life, for the overdose prescription deaths of three of her patients [Joey Rovero, 21, Vu Nguyen, 28, Steven Ogle, 25].
Down at this end of the hallway, I see several counsel from the Dr. Uwaydah et. al, (Kelly Soo Park), massive insurance fraud scam. Kelly Soo Park's husband, Tom Chronister, is sitting across the hall off by himself. I also see a woman who was pointed out to me as having once worked for Dr. Uwaydah with Park. [I'll call her Ms. V.] This woman was seen in the gallery during Park's murder trial. Today the woman is with a male friend and they are very affectionate with each other. She is not charged in the indictment, doesn't appear to interact with Parks husband, yet she comes to many of the pretrial hearings. One of Paul Turley's defense attorneys, Ariel Newman is here chatting with several familiar faces. I can't keep all the counsel names straight; there are so many of them.
Sitting directly across the hall from me is defense attorney Donald Re, who defended German architect Gerhard Becker on involuntary manslaughter charges. I'm betting there will be a third case that has a pretrial hearing in Judge Kennedy's courtroom, before we get to the Franklin case.
There are quite a few people at the other end of the hall for the two sentencings.
8:40 AM - Inside Dept. 109
There is an unfamiliar DDA at the prosecution table. Two prosecutors from the Uwaydah et. al case, DDA's Kennes Ma and DDA Karen Nishita arrive. Chronister sits in the gallery in his usual spot, second row near the jury box. A few casually dressed detectives arrive and sit in the bench row directly behind the bailiff's box. The bailiff makes sure to point out to the two detectives, that the suited woman beside them is "defense." He smiles and then says, "Just so you know."
There's lots of people coming and going in the well. Conversations between counsel and the clerk at the clerk's desk. As many people as there are in the well, it's relatively quiet in here.
Park's husband is speaking with Kassabian in the gallery. A minute later, Kassabian takes a seat in the jury box.
DDA Catherine Chon arrives. She's dressed in a sleek black pantsuit and her makeup is perfect. She looks quite pretty today. Another attorney shows up. There are greetings and hand shakes with other counsel. A very pretty attorney with long blond hair, pushing a rolling briefcase cart shows up. She smiles at Ms. V and V's male friend. She parks her car in the front row and sits beside them in the second row.
DDA Dayan Mathai co-lead prosecutor in the Uwaydah et. all case arrives. Two minutes later, Judge Kennedy takes the bench. The case involving Donald Re will be heard first. There are several counsel at the defense table. I'm not sure if one of the individuals is a defendant or not. Mr. Re is sitting in the chairs behind the defense table in the well.
Counsel are asked to state their appearances, but it goes too quickly for me to get all the names. I believe I hear that Mr. Re is representing a Mr. Caudillo. The case is the LA Coliseum Scandal.
Here's an LA Weekly article from 2013 about one of the defendants, Pasquale Rotella, and here's an LA Times article from January 2015.
At issue today is what material that was seized is "privileged" and what is not. I believe it's the counsel for Rotella that is challenging which of his client's emails are privileged and which are not.
Law clerks [for the court?] are going through the emails to determine which emails are privileged between the defendant and his attorney. Counsel's attorney is arguing that all email communication between himself and his client is privileged. It appears the attorney wants the law clerks to explain their decisions. The court tells counsel that the law clerks are not here today. They are at a conference.
It's uncertain if there is some argument in their [the law clerks] rationale where certain emails were CC'd to someone so that's their rationale for saying that something is not privileged.
It's a long discussion back and forth between the defense, the court and the people.
The other issue is, the defense attorney filed their their motion under seal which means the DA can't see the arguments the defense is using for their position. The prosecution is requesting termination of privilege.
The court responds, "I haven't looked at this in depth. I figured you folks would submit something because you always do. Apparently not this time."
From what I gather, Rotella is out on bail and so are several other defendants. The arguments going back and forth are mind numbing.
Franklin's lead attorney, Seymour Amster arrives and sets his bag on the chairs to my left. He gives a look to the bailiff. He has papers in his hand. It appears he wants to file a motion but the clerk is not at his desk. Since there is this big discussion going on in the well, and the look from the bailiff, Amster waits. A minute or two later the clerk comes out. Amster gives him his papers. The clerk looks them over and then he stamps them. His motion is filed. Once filed, Amster leaves the courtroom.
The attorney for defendant Rotella is still arguing that his 140 emails are privileged. Judge Kennedy asks the parties what they do in Federal court, since [county court] "... since we are their red haired stepchildren. ... At Thanksgiving, the Feds sit at the big table and we sit at the children's table." Then Judge Kennedy looks over at the DDA's handling the Uwaydah et. all /Park case and asks, "What do my experts say? I have similar issues in their case."
The DDA in the Coliseum case is arguing that in Federal court the people get to see the privilege law, meaning the arguments in the defense motion that is under seal. Rotella's attorney argues that the communication with his client, the day after an LA Times article, the people just don't get to see those emails. Judge Kennedy tentatively rules, that she doesn't believe that the people get to see any communication between a defendant and his criminal attorney. Nothing.
A short while later, Judge Kennedy states she is prepared to make this ruling. "All communications between defendant and attorney are privileged. ... And I'm not going to read them and I don't know what they're about." Judge Kennedy adds that the "gray area" [ emails marked as such by the court law clerks] is all she's concerned about.
The DDA is also concerned about the gray area emails. Judge Kennedy states that on the gray area ones, [that are] not between defendant and attorney, it doesn't seem to the court that Judge Kennedy sees the same problems with a privileged law in relation to those. "What is the basis as to why those are privilege or not privilege. Are they work product, those gray area ones? What are you relying on? [Maybe?] What [she?] would argue, that maybe they were sent to anyone in the world, or maybe to the publicist who was handling things for the company, whatever it is.
There's more discussion as to what "gray area" is and on and on it goes, because there are other attorney's involved. Mr. Aron Laub provided services to [another attorney?] and that's in someone's brief last year. There an argument regarding "business advice exception to attorney client privilege."
This is still going on. An attorney in the gallery gives a big wide yawn and it triggers me to yawn. A schedule is set up for briefs to be filed by both sides at the same time, and that each side will then decide what they are going to respond to in each others' papers. There's discussion about setting a trial date in July or August. Then the counsel waive time for each of the defendants and return on March 11. As far as the initial three defendants, they are all done. The court asks Mr. Re about his case. Re states he is not involved with all the other issues. He returns March 4. This hearing finally ends and there's a bit of quiet bustle in the courtroom.
DDA Mathai puts his papers on the prosecution table. The blond attorney sitting in the gallery knows DDA's Mathai and Chon. She leaves the courtroom with the DDA's to chat.
It looks like the next case will be Uwaydah et. al / Park
10:05 AM - Uwaydah et. al / Park
Parks defense attorney Kassabian steps out and then is quickly back in the courtroom. A few defense attorneys and DDA Ma are chatting in the well. The blond attorney comes back to sit in the gallery with Ms. V.
A defendant is brought out. It's Tony Folgar. The court goes on the record. The defendant is signing a 977 waiver. The court goes over in detail the specifics of this waiver to ensure the defendant understands what he is signing. The court addresses defendant Folgar. "By signing this, you are waiving appearance for certain hearings and waive time in your absence and allow your attorney to represent you instead without your presence. Do you understand that?" "Yes mam," Folgar replies. Judge Kennedy asks, "Is that your signature on this document?" "Yes mam," Folgar replies. A slender black attorney addresses the court, "[Issacs? and Nixon?] on behalf of Mr. Folgar." The court asks the defendant, "You understand the effect of this?" "Yes, your honor," Folgar replies.
The next hearing for Folgar will be February 26. He waives his appearance until March 25, along with the rest of the defendants. The defendant doesn't want to stay for a motion. He's remanded.
For the next issue, counsel are asked to state their appearances. There are two other attorney's here. Ariel Newman for defendant Paul Turley and Ms. Ellyn Garofalo for Tatiana Arnold. From the jury box, Mark Kassabian is here for defendant Park.
DDA's Mathai, Chon and Ma state their appearances for the people. It appears this morning the people filed a supplemental motion for review of defense material.
DDA Mathai explains and apologizes that counsel, all of them were pushing hard to reach an agreement before today's appearance. At some point it became clear that there are some matters they could agree on. DDA Mathai starts to explain that some of the issues overlap but they're very different. DDA Mathai states that while privilege does arise in both issues, what the court has here is very different. They are not dealing with communication between charged defendants and current counsel.
The subject of privilege laws are going to be a different category. [The people] believe that we have all worked, tried to work together to reach a conclusion before litigating everything in court.
The issue that everyone is discussing is the contents of a storage unit, who does it really belong to and who is claiming privilege over the contents. Ariel states some of the issues are the location of the storage unit, and the preparation of the documents to be copied and [I can't believe this] "who is going to take out the staples out of the binders." Ariel interrupts and DDA Mathai tells the court that he hasn't completed his thoughts yet.
In the middle of all this, I see DDA Tannaz Mokayef arrive. I give her a smile hello.
Some of the issues have to do with search warrants on Ms. Arnold's home and storage unit. These documents have not been looked through and these documents need to be looked through and who gets to see them. DDA Mathai argues who specifically holds the privilege and who is claiming privilege. Ms. Arnold is claiming privilege on behalf of clients that she has. If she's claiming a privilege, is she a lawyer for these people for them, and what period of time was she their lawyer. DDA Mathai states that some of these shell companies were shell companies that were owned and controlled by Uwaydah. That's the point that [DDA Mathai] is trying to raise in these motions.
Some of the issues are threshold issues. Items taken from her location will be copied and given to her lawyer. The other lawyer who is claiming privilege, doesn't represent her; he represents a co defendant. What was seized from Mr. Turley's home, his attorney will receive and review.
If there is a co defendant who also has an interest, this storage unit, was not an exclusive storage unit. There was some personal stuff related to Dr. Uwaydah. Ms. Arnold claims to have represented Uwaydah, as well as Benjamin Gluck. This is a complicated issue that overlaps claims of representation and claims of privilege. So what we've asked in this latest amended motion, is the court should appoint a special master to deal with the privilege issue. Who has claim to privilege so it doesn't get bogged down with overlapping privilege issues.
DDA Craig Hum arrives and sits down with Tannaz Mokayef in the back bench row. The prosecution team for the Franklin case arrive.
Ms. Garofalo adds that what she understands the DA is asking, is the people her client [Arnold] represented and when. "The entire contents of her law office were in this storage unit. She was in the process of a move. ... She can't go back and go over all that. ... Between 2008 and 2010 Ms. Arnold maintained her own independent law office and provided legal services. ... I believe it is absolutely impossible, I believe, for a lawyer to provide specified information to the DA's office and give the [specific?] dates with this contract to specific insurance carriers. ... Without seeing the documents, we cannot provide that information."
Judge Kennedy states, "Well, after you get the information you're going to understand..." DDA Mathai agrees, "That's true. ... With some of these claims, even that becomes difficult. ... With the items at her home and that storage unit that's easy. ... My point is, with some of these locations, particularly, location 13, it's more complicated. ... And counsel is unwilling to say, the person claiing the privilege when they were presented. ... If Ms. Arnold did ... was not representing Mr. Uwaydah in 2004 and 2005, the analysis is different than if she's representing him now. ... Our only issue is location 13."
DDA Mathai continues. "For that location [requesting] the court appoint a special master, to overlook these claims and review these documents. ... These counsel can ...."
The court notes that when Judge Fidler had the case, he handled similar matters. DDA Mathai says the same point; it's the same principal ... because of the sheer number of things. But the court does have the the power to do it. .... Research attorneys that the court utilizes.
Ariel Newman feels storage 13 unit is Frontline's. Any documents are Frontline's possession to Frontline lawyers. They prepared a privilege law [?] and we produce that law to court and the DA's office. If there are any issues of the law ... This use that the DA raised that someone else's documents were in the storage unit, they are skipping a basic step. "Those items were in my client's possession. ... A special master is unneedlessly complicated." Newman is is asserting that the storage unit was rented on behalf of Frontline.
The court asks, "Why can't we just do that?" DDA Mathai answers. "The court should be concerned about some claims that should be made. During the Kelly Park case, there was litigation and motions filed where there was actually conflict of interest as to who was paying her court costs."
Newman replies, "This is absurd." DDA Mathai interjects, "I keep being interrupted." DDA Mathai continues, "Mr. Gluck said he represented Munir Uwaydah ... and that Tatiana Arnold said she represented Munir Uwaydah. ... They are now saying it's a Frontline storage unit. ... I would ask the court..."
Back and forth, back and forth it goes.
DDA Mathai adds, "Just looking at the index of the files, it's clear that many of the items are personal materials." Newman interrupts. "We're representing to the court and I'm not ..."
I believe the court adds that Park, she was a Frontline employee and she rented storage unit[s] on behalf of Frontline ... but was [it] in her name then we [shouldn't?] have a problem ... all those items can go to [Turley's counsel.
I miss Newman's response to the court.
The court continues, "If that's the reality then that declaration should be relatively easy to obtain. ... Then you are the entity representing Frontline." Newman responds, "I represent Paul Turley, one of the principals of Frontline.
The court adds, "If no, just on your representation, there is a [person?] whose name is on the storage unit. Obtain a declaration on the storage unit." Newman's reply is interesting. "There is a fifth amendment issue. She may not want to state she was a Frontline employee."
The court clarifies for the record. "It's not in Frontline's name. It's in the third person's name. Who was an employee of Frontline." Newman now states there "may be" some personal items in there. "There may be some Shelly Rose Kelly documents." [It's my understanding this Ms. Kelly is an alleged former girlfriend of Dr. Uwaydah.] Newman continues, "They can't assert that this is Ms. Rose Kelly's storage unit."
DDA Mathai tells the court, "I understand that that was the claim. They're not even willing to have Paul Turley to sign." The court replies, "They don't want their client to sign anything." Newman asks, "Will they give it [contents] back to Shelly Rose Kelly?"
DDA Mathai clarifies for the court, "The court should appreciate in all of that ... this is a group of people [that] created intentional confusion of this for [years?] putting everything in everyone [elses?] name ... having the business address and [Ms. Arnold's) address ... so any clarity ... is it's either too hard or it makes people, their eyes go out of their heads. [In reviewing my notes, I wonder, do I have that right? Did Mathai just say that?] These are confusing issues created by these defendants. ... Before the court gets involved in order to turn over stuff ... [they] created so much confusion that who owns this ... whose name it's in ... this is one example. there are other examples. ... There should be clarity who's claiming [privilege] and if there are any conflicts with other potential defendants who are making claims."
The court replies, "I don't understand this. ... Whose things? ... which conflicts? ... I understand the whole things with Park [the murder trial] and [?] as to who was paying the attorney fees." DDA Mathai believes, "I think there are similar issues here." Judge Kennedy replies, "I'm not sure."
DDA Mathai clarifies, "All I ask for ... I don't think we asked for that much ... just who are you representing ... who is making the claim of privilege."
I believe the court states that Mr. Newman doesn't even know what's in [unit 13]. Newman tells the court, "If we are ever going to claim privilege, we can't do that until we have the documents in hand." He tells the court that Ms. Garofalo has not claimed privilege over unit 13. "She cannot without seeing documents. ... Without seeing the documents from a particular time. ... This is a case that has spanned years. ... There are multiple matters. There are several locations besides location 13."
The court replies, "Ms. Arnold doesn't have anything to waive because she's not the holder."
Someone adds, "She has an obligation to claim for those clients. She represented Frontline and Uwaydah." The court counters, "Not to those documents that are in Frontline's possession. ... I don't have any problem with Frontline seeing ... Let's give them to Frontline from location 13 to Frontline lawyers. If Frontline thereafter claims privilege, that's where the rubber meets the road. No other lawyer, or Ms. Arnold or Ms. Garofalo claims privilege at this time."
Mr. Newman adds, "We've gone past that your honor." He then addresses another issue. "Every step of the way, it's protected from the DA's office [by law] from looking at it."
Judge Kennedy rules. "I'm going to order that the proposal that clerical not associated with their unit [DDA Mathai's unit] take the staples out of the binders or view ... are ordered not to disclose the contents of anything they viewed ... and to have no connection with this unit [Mathai's unit] that these lawyers are involved in this case, I think organized crime. ... that would be my order."
So, it looks like Frontline's attorneys won this round. Now, there's a big issue with discovery.
From what I can gather the gist of it, it's something to do with "locked" verses unlocked versions of documents on hard drives. The defense attorneys will no longer have to unlock documents and it appears it's something that Gluck's firm has solved.
DDA Chon then gives the court an update on discovery. And I have to say, I don't hear a straight forward answer with page numbers like DDA Dan Akemon states in the Michael Gargiulo case. What I hear are groups of things.
DDA Chon states there is an "... estimate of documents and an update on documents. ... The defense asked for nine things in particular... All billing records were turned over. ... any remaining ... that are in [with?] actual files and insurance companies ... those still need to be turned over. ... [another item I miss] All records of what experts viewed before testifying in the grand jury. ... Those were all spelled out in the grand jury transcripts."
There are more details Chon gives as to what's been turned over. Agreements between witnesses. Statements of witnesses. Ten percent [ of that?] is still being prepared [and] should have all of that by Tuesday and ready for discocery. The defense is also asking for all records in who participated in all searches and interviews. Any and all strategy meetings including company reps. Chon is not sure about something but states if it was written, it was turned over.
Judge Kennedy asks, "Were there any people that wre present and not written down? ... Did they [detectives?] insure with DA ... people and whomever was involved?" DDA Chom replies that should be listed in the search warrant[s]. The court continues, "Whoever was present [for] the execution of search warrants are listed in reports." DDA Chon hedges, "I don't want to say that for sure." The court instructs, "Well then, you better check." DDA Chon assures the court, "We will check."
The people continue. Not all interviews in this case were recorded. It's DDA Chon's understanding that all people present in interviews, that is in reports. Possibly not as sure about whether there were insurance company investigators there for strategy or particular interviews.
[Next is where you get the sense of the overwhelming amount of evidence that was siezed in this case.]
Documents relating to State Farm, approximately 10,107 pages. Brookshire Hathaway, 16 folders. Half of the file[s] approximately 224,000 pages. Other insurance companies, one box, 43 CD's. They have been able to check up to six of the 43 [CD's?] 53,000 pages. There are five USB drives on there that have not been checked. The Department of Business oversight documents have not been scanned yet. Approximately 12,000 pages. The FDIC documents, on the CD, approximately 621 pages. Approximately 90% of bank records are scanned. 161 files from scanned documents. Also a box of CD's and flash drives that the people haven't been able to review. All of this will be copied and they will come back in two weeks and give a status update.
Newman agrees to coming back every two weeks. They will return February 19. Newman adds, "One other thing. Ms. Chon went through our requests and gave us no sense of when things are coming." DDA Chon explains. "This is the problem. We are watermarking. We have to create 13 files for each defendant." The court replies, "The question is, when will those be ready?"
There is a suggestion to give Paul Turley's counsel the first copy and hopefully that can be ready in the next two weeks. DDA Chon can't say in good faith how many pages can be turned over each day. Newman argues more about the slow discovery. Judge Kennedy replies that her "head is going to explode." Newman argues, "they've chosen to do this watermark. They've done [this] to delay and delay. ... They can't use it as a basis a year after the indictment. ... It's absurd."
The people counter that they have an enormous amount of discovery that they have turned over. They offer to come back in two weeks. DDA Chon states that some defense attorneys don't drop off hard drives [for the people to transfer the information to] and some don't pick up their discovery.
Folgar's new counsel brings up another issue, specific to his client. I believe it's Mr. [Issacs?] who is speaking. His is the last firm on the case. "We would like permission to file on behalf of Folgar, a demur to the 995, just to the tax charges. ... He's in with the smaller indictment. ... There's only six days of transcripts. ... It's largely a legal issue." Judge Kennedy asks, "Is he the only one charged on the tax charge?" It appears that all four on the smaller indictment are charged on individual tax charges.
Issacs continues. "We've conferred with our colleagues on the small indictment. Permission to file a demur with a brief schedule on a brief motion. .. [We are] trying to do something small ..." Ms. Garofalo adds, "There are no tax charges in the large indictment."
The parties will report back on the 19th and court asks, "Are we done here?" DDA Mathai confirms, "We're done." The court reporter needs a break. Kassabian goes over to speak to Park's husband in the gallery. And that's it for this case.
11:31 AM - Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Case
The parties are setting up at their respective tables. The court goes on the record. Seymour Amster and Kristen Gozawa for the defense. DDA's Rizzo and Silverman for the people.
They are dealing with the issue of various motions that were filed. The court interrupts to ask her clerk to help get rid of all the Uwaydah stuff on her desk.
The court informs the parties that she received an email from Judge Brandlin. [Judge Brandlin presides over the Superior Court's Department 100, which is master calendar court.] The court continues Mr. [Corell? Quell?] has been suspended from the panel. ... [We] did have an exparte meeting on the record. ... That is ... was an issue involving Mr. [Corell? Quell?]. ... I didn't have any independent information about it ... when he provided that information to me. ... It was only after that court-wide email went out ... [the issue came up of] whether Mr. [Corell? Quell?] can testify in this case. ... He's been suspended from the panel. [This means, he is no longer accepted by the LA County Superior Court as an approved panel expert.]"
DDA Silverman adds, "We also know from law enforcement that [judges?] had filed police reports for perjury and [?] against [LA Superior Court?]." I believe the court asks, "Judges have filed?"
DDA Silverman explains, "Police reports with the police department for fraud and perjury. ... If he's going to testify ... those are the kind of charges..."
The defense offers that Mr. [Quell? Corell?] does have a criminal defense attorney. Mr. Amster has been in communication with him. Amster tells the court, "He advised me that Mr. [Quell? Corell?] will take the fifth. ... It's been an ongoing thing I'm dealing with. ... The defense position is not to use Dr. [Corell? Quell?] solely on this issue. ... This is something that I never expected. ... We have done a nationwide search to find someone to replace Dr. [Quell? Corell?]. I have submotted to the 987.9 judge an application for another expert. ... One, I'm waiting for the appointment."
Judge Kennedy states, "[I'll discuss with master [court] if Mr. [Quell? Corell?] voked the fifth, he should make an application for that case." Amster states he can't see any way to save his expert. Still, he went on and made a search. Amster states he has located an individual out of Florida. Amster feels this expert could be ready to testify at the latest, early April. "I think I could get him up to speed in March, but I need a 987.9 judge to react."
Amster continues that he's made arrangements with a court employee [I'll call this person K]. K is a person who works for the court who handles appointments after they have been approved.
The court adds, "When I spoke to Judge Brandlin, if there was something that he [the expert] was going to invoke the fifth, that the defense would need another expert, probably. ... and Brandlin said the 987.9 judge was aware of the situation." Amster tells the court that his proposal is in there [with the 987.9 judge] today.
There are motions set from Monday. The [?] motion in limine is moot. I don't know what the expert will be for Monday. I believe Amster states he is prepared to go forward with the people's motion for their expert. Judge Kennedy asks, "What about the [Pickens?] character?" Amster states, "He's not been appointed by the court. ... I don't think I will need Pickens if I get the indivdual out of Florida. ... Mr. Pickens was a metalurgist that would only be used as a clear rebuttal witness. ... Mr. Pickens does not have the ability to duplicate Dr. [Quell? Corell?], but I'm not comfortable doing that."
Judge Kennedy addresses counsel. "I've reviewed all the filings by everyone. I do not believe the court needs a Kelly Frye hearing on ballistics comparison. ... I read the [Cullen?] case that defense cited. I also do not feel that it would preclude the ballistic experts from stating their opinion, and have another expert say another opinion. ... I will not preclude them [experts?] from stating a match, which you, the defense, required which I don't think is required. ... We've had opinions from experts for decades. It's not a new science. And it's not something that is subject to Kelly Frye hearing at this point. ..."
The court continues with explaining their ruling. "The motion ... is denied. ... The motion to limit opinions from the people's experts is denied. ... I'm not precluding you [defense] from presenting other opinions, but you apparently don't [have an expert] at the moment. ... Assuming you get another expert appointed ... but I don't see how we can do it at this point. ... It's a shame that we don't have the jury coming back until the 16th. ... [But] it is what it is. ... [What] I would really like to have happen before the 16th, any PowerPoint you intend to use, that yo ushare that in advance with the other side so that if there's an objection to it, ... I can rule on those before opening statements. ... So I assume you intend to use something, people?"
DDA Silverman confirms the court's question. "Yes. As I made mention a couple of months ago, counsel is allowed to come over and view the exhibits and PowerPoint."
There are questions back and forth about when Amster is available for viewing the people's PowerPoint and exhibits for opening statements.
The court asks the defense, "Do yo uintend to make an opening statement at this point?" Amster replies, "I don't think so." He's asked to be sure before Thursday of next week because Friday is a holiday. Judge Kennedy tells the defense, "If there's going to be any issue with regard to the PowerPoint or [anything else] she intends to use, I want you to [review] them ... and litigate them on the 11th ... and any other issues [that] come up."
Judge Kennedy tells the parties about an issue with a seated juror that has come up. It's juror #5, in seat 3. Now her employer says their pay policy is not what was represented. The employer won't pay her for all this time. The court asked the juror's [superiors?] to submit something in writing and have those in writing and see what that's about.
DDA Silverman inquires about the selection to replace this juror, if needed is random. The court assures that the selection is random.
The people inform the court there are about 600 exhibits, at least, in the guilt phase alone. They are pre-marked.
Judge Kennedy tells the parties that she will be on vacation [I'm not sure about the time period she's referencing] and comments, jokingly I believe, "How can I live. How can I breathe?" She adds that there is a possibility that her former, regular clerk will be back or that her current clerk will be here. She'll know that soon. She tells the parties that the clerks are "very sensitive" about exhibits.
DDA Silverman assures the court that she will provide a book and it will be tabled and everything organized. Judge Kennedy asks, that if the people show an exhibit, to also state what count it goes to.
DDA Silverman replies, "Yes. We will have a chart of all the different names and number [of the count] that come forward in this case. ... We were even thinking of ... we're not going to make books for each jurors." The court reminds the people to share it with Mr. Amster. Amster states he's willing to meet with the prosecution on Monday in the afternoon, to go over everything. He assures the court that that meeting will happen.
DDA Silverman informs the court that, "Some witnesses will be taken out of order. ... They may testify to two or three things at a time. Also because if they [the exhibits] are premarked we won't be doing the exhibits in order."
In closing, the court asks, "So, have we done all we can do today?" DDA Silverman tells the court her opening statement will take one and a half, to two hours. She's asking if she will need to schedule witnesses for the morning. Judge Kennedy replies that she's sensitive to jurors, to their time and sensitive to the loss of jurors as the trial goes on. I believe the court recommends to have witnesses available for the morning. DDA Silverman adds that she believes that the people should finish with the people case in chief, unless there is extensive amount of cross by the defense, by the first week of March.
Amster is asking the court if Mr. Atherton can make all the objections for the defense. The court indicates they are fine with that, as long as he adheres to it. Amster is fine, as long as one is designated. Amster also asks that the defense is advised in advance as to who the upcoming witnesses will be. The court tells the parties, "Both of you are doing that." The parties don't want to bring 100 binders in every day. The court states, "In general, you are going to have a plan and at the end of the day you can say [who is testifying] tomorrow." DDA Silverman states, "Of course we can do that."
Amster says, "I need to know what exhibits the people are utilizing, what they expect to be utilizing ... are [there] photos from all the crime scenes." The court tells him, "When you go on Monday, she is going to show you all her exhibits." Amster is concerned about getting access to see and scan them and compare them." Amster mentions about bringing in a portable scanner when he comes on Monday.
The court concludes with, "So the next time I see you is Thursday [2/11] at 9:00 am." DDA Silverman adds, "It seems like you are happy to see us for the first time ... I may not be accurate, but it seems like it."
And that's it. Next hearing is February 11.
February 11, 2016 - Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Case
It's a little after 8:35 am. I'm on the 9th floor the of the downtown Los Angeles criminal justice center. LAPD Cold Case Detectives Daryn Dupree and hes partner are here. There are a few counsel on this end of the floor but they head into another courtroom. Ten minutes later, a Sheriff's deputy opens Dept. 109. Dupree's partner paces the floor, talking on his cell phone. There are a few people here for opening statements in a case in Dept. 102. More people for the case in Dept. 102 arrive and hugs are exchanged.
There is another case that will be heard before Franklin. The hearing is put over to another date. It's pretty quick.
Amster is here and the court is still on the bench from the prior case. Amster chats off the record with the court about his family and their various accomplishments.
Franklin is brought out. The prosecution sets up at their table. DDA's Jamie Castro and Paul Przelomiec are here. The court goes on the record and the parties state their appearances.
The court informs the parties, "I did get a letter from the juror I told you. Seat 3, juror #5, sent a letter from USC Irvine and this is from the supervisor. Given the nature and medical center ... only allows partial coverage of her hours for jury duty service." The court reads more from the letter. "I kindly allow her to defer to another six or eight months. ... If she enters with her current status, she is only a part time appointment so she's not allowed the full benefits. ... She's applying for a Ph. D. program. ... Being away will affect her PH. D. application."
Amster states he's not sure if that satisfies hardship. The court replies, "I have the feeling that the concerns for her, is her ability to get into the Ph. D. program. I'm reading between the lines."
Amster thinks that [is] proper consideration. The defense will stipulate and so will the people to excuse the juror. The court randomly picks the alternates and will pick someone to take her place on Tuesday morning. Amster requests that the picking of the new juror from the alternates be done in front of the defense. The court counters, "I do everything on a death penalty case in front of the defense."
There is a new clerk at the clerk's desk. The people filed two points and authorities that they believe the defense has received. Amster states they've received it but he hasn't read it yet. Mr. Atherton is working on the opposition but hasn't completed it yet. Judge Kennedy asks if he is preparing opposition to one or both of them. Amster states one relates to photographs.
DDA Silverman tells the court, "They came over, the entire defense team and we gave them as much time as they wanted to review the exhibits and PowerPoint." Amster states that he doesn't see anything at this moment that rises to the level of objection. Amster does mention the "hearsay testimony of the coroner, replacement coroner and DNA analyst." He thinks that is an issue that requires a Crawford issue. Judge Kennedy clarifies, "So you're looking at that?" Amster replies, "Atherton is looking at it. ... I feel that should not require a lot of argument or anything else." DDA Rizzo tells the court, "The law is pretty clear on it." Judge Kennedy replies, "I will make a ruling when I have the papers. ... I will reserve making a ruling on points and authorities."
DDA Silverman tells the court, "The coroner will be the first two days." Amster replies, "I will supply him [Atherton] with an email address so he can email the court and the people, so that can be addressed first thing."
The court asks the defense if they've reviewed Ms. Silverman's PowerPoint. DDA Silverman asks the court in what form the court would like a copy of the PowerPoint, [which will be entered as a court exhibit] on paper or CD. Judge Kennedy replies, "Both."
DDA Silverman adds, "I'll have it on the condition from the court, it's not to be given to the defense. This is work product." Amster insists, "We're not going to ask for a copy of the PowerPoint."
Amster states that, if the PowerPoint is in the same condition when presented to the jury as what they saw it on Monday, he has no objection to it. DDA Silverman states they may change the order or spacing, but not the content.
They then move onto the exhibits. First, the defense complains that they were not able to get copies of the prosecution's exhibits. They had a portable scanner, but they were not allowed to use it. Amster states he's looking at a due process violation without a copy of the people's exhibits. The people insist they are not going to give the defense a copy. The court states they don't see the harm if the defense copies them at his own expense. The people have no objection to that.
They defense now moves onto specific exhibits they are objecting to. The first is photos of handcuffs that were found during execution of search warrants at Franklin's residence and vehicles. Amster argues that they don't know of any facts by the people that alleged to the use of handcuffs [in any of the crimes]. The people argue their position as to why these photos should come in. After DDA Silverman outlines in detail the reasons why the photos should come in, Amster counters, "I'm still not hearing any evidence that relates to handcuffs." And back and forth it goes. One pair of handcuffs, apparently was registered to a law enforcement officer. There's more argument on both sides that goes on for a while.
Eventually, Judge Kennedy rules. "It seems to me that an argument can be made that it's an instrument of coercion. ... There are no witnesses to say what exactly happened in other murders. ... In terms of being prejudicial, it's pretty minor when compared to all the other evidence, including handguns and weapons that have been mentioned here. ... I don't think the prejudice outweighs the probative so, going to rule on that.
The next issue that Amster argues, is the number of firearms that were found that the people have no evidence that were utilized in this case. Same argument on the case. DDA Silverman responds there is a stronger argument in case law. The number of victims that were shot and killed.
Judge Kennedy quickly rules. "In regards to guns, rifles, again, there's coercion implicit in these particular crimes and the fact that he ha access to these weapons and that a couple of weapons were used. Going to overrule the objection."
Amster brings up the driver's license.
Besides the driver's license, there's a City of Los Angeles Department of Sanitation, along with manyother items, along with receipts of weapons ... he had possession and control over the weapons and house. Judge Kennedy overrules the objection.
Amster is objecting about another photo, of a shirt. It's a shirt that says, 'Los Angeles Police.' And he had this shirt with his name on a tag [attached?]. Judge Kennedy overrules the objection.
Amster objects on constitutional objection. He talks about two photos of two women, that are not in the charged indictment. Amster assumes these photos will be introduced in the guilt phase.
DDA Silverman explains. "[Rowena sp?] Morris and Yella Marshall. These are women, amongst the 800 or so [photo] items recovered from the search warrant over a three day period. ... There were a mountain of photos of women, most had their breasts exposed. [Marshall?]... her photo was found in a small refrigerator in a garage area, and also in the garage area that psychologists term trophies. ... Morris [photo is of her] inside a van. And allegations of women being picked up in a van. And you can see [photos of] the defendant is engaging in various graphic sex acts in the van. ... Their bodies [of these two women] are missing."
Judge Kennedy rules that these two photo exhibits #335 and #336 during the guilt phase will be sustained. They will not come into the trial during guilt.
Amster brings up a photo of a firearm holster, same argument as other firearms. The court overrules the defense objection to this photo. There is another objection about a photo of another firearm holster. That objection is also overruled by the court. Amster then brings up a Deputy City Identification [card] of Franklin. This objection is also overruled by the court.
Amster's next objection, "The people mention of a 17 year old on the tapes. I don't have transcripts of the tape." DDA Silverman informs the court, we have that transcript. It's a six minute portion of a 45 minute tape. Amster counters, "Assuming it's a video tape, that is not one of the victims in the named counts." DDA Silverman explains it related to the penalty phase. The court tells Amster, "They're going to give you copies of that and you can examine it further and I'll hear arguments."
Amster states an issue was brought up concerning a tape of and a statement of the defendant. DDA Silverman immediately knows the exhibit number of what Amster is talking about It's 430 a, b, and c. I'm amazed at DDA Silverman. How do you keep hundreds of exhibits straight in your head?
DDA Silverman explains that 430a is an unedited CD of the entire time the defendant was placed in an interview room. The version of the entire time in the interview room, recorded and video taped. He was there a lengthy time. 430b is the portion that the people plans to play, where the people edited out the time where the defendant fell asleep. 430c is the complete transcript. It starts basically at 10:46 when he was put into the room and nothing happens for a period of time. The next time stamp is 11:51, because nothing happened.
Amster states they cannot find that this evidence was turned over to them. Mr. Atherton has looked an he can't find it. Amster also states that trying to get copies of discovery that was turned over [to prior counsel], prior to coming on board the case has been non-existent. Amster states he doesn't want to delay things. He's asking if they can have another copy as soon as possible. DDA Silverman replies it's not a problem. DDA Rizzo states it was provided to Ms. Pensanti, the now disbarred previous counsel. Whatever copies counsel needs, it's a non-issue.
The people now talk about a victim identification chart. They thought they would make one for each of the jurors. The court asks if Amster looked at that. Amster states he doesn't think he has any problem with it. The court explains, "The only reason we're giving this to them is so they can identify which victim goes with each count. ... It's okay if the jurors make their own personal notes on these copies. ... It will be like their notebooks."
Amster then brings up the fact that the people plan to introduce the actual ballistic evidence, the projectiles. "As the court knows, I no longer have my original ballistic expert." Amster just received his appointment for the replacement.
Now there is discussion about how his expert that he just got appointed, will be able to examine the evidence once it's entered into evidence. DDA Silverman states she brought this up over two years ago. Judge Kennedy at first tells Amster that his expert will have to bring his microscope into court.
And back and forth it goes, this issue is discussed where Amster doesn't have his prior witness because he's not available. The court said they only stated because the expert made a statement that he would take the fifth. There's now discussion again, about what Judge Brandlin said or didn't say this witness was able to do.
The court states they don't have a proble, with an expert, with the proper accreditation, if he can examine specific items of evidence, and the evidence might be able to be released overnight. We can work something out but not going to have evidence "willy nilly" all over the place. Amster offers the possibly of a law enforcement official, accompany the evidence that is taken outside the courthouse, for his expert to examine.
The court asks if there is anything else. The people state that they have trimmed down the homemade pornographic evidence. "Some of the women appear to be unconscious or dead. ... I don't know." The court asks, "We'll give that to the penalty [phase?]" DDA Silverman answers, "No. It's actually in the search warrant section."
Amster states, "We don't have an objection to pornographic material, but when [they] say that someone is unconscious, or dead, as far as the counts, we don't have any evidence of that ... and they're trying to bring in evidence of other crimes ... bringing in other evidence of the guilt phase."
The court tells the defense, "You're going to object by picture or exhibit number. I can't broadly deal with it." DDA Silverman states, "We're not going to get to that for a long time." Amster insists, "I want my right to raise that issue." The court states, "I believe that we've done all we can do right now?" Amster replies, "Yes." The court replies, "So I'll see you on Tuesday."
DDA Silverman asks Amster the name of his expert. The court also asks who it is. "David J. Lamanga. He's out of Florida. ... Tonight or tomorrow, I'll email the people his CV." The court adds, "That would be helpful."
The people add, If there are any exhibits that the defense plans to utilize, they have not been shown that. Amster states there will be exhibits during the guilt phase. The people answer that they need to see those, just like the defense [saw the people's]. Amster states, "Tuesday morning, I plan to have a complete set. ... I will give her [Silverman] more than less." The court instructs, "Give her something." The court then asks Amster, "Is it still your intention to not make an opening statement?" Amster replies, "That's correct."
Franklin is brought back into custody at 10:17 am. And that's it. We are on the eve of the Franklin trial. DDA Silverman takes two huge, and I mean these are huge, binders over to the clerks desk.
I wait in the courtroom while the prosecution packs up all their things. I'm sort of half listening to the chatter. Judge Kennedy's bailiff and another deputy with three stripes on his sleeve, come over to chat with the prosecution team. The bailiff is going over with the people all the details of operating the overhead projection device, and the best lighting. At one point I believe I was asked about the clarity of the images under certain lighting conditions, but I wasn't really paying attention to the dialog. I'm still on a pain med from my fall three weeks ago.
I don't recognize or know the name of the deputy that appears to be a Sargent, but I believe the prosecutors know him. It's all jovial, pleasant conversation that soon turns to the Sargent sharing a personal life experience. It's a great story and everyone is interested in it. I take out my notepad to jot down some notes. When the Sargent sees me write on my notepad he turns and says to me, "... and if I see this anywhere, I'll bar you from the courthouse."
I don't know that the Sargent could legally do that since he told his story in a public space and knew I was a journalist. Regardless, it's clear that he didn't want his personal story repeated. So unfortunately, I don't have a great closing story to tell you.
Opening statements are Tuesday, February 16. I am honored to have been granted by the LA County Superior Court's Public Information Office, a reserved seat. There are only 12 seats reserved for journalists. I do hope that barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will be able to attend every day of the three month trial.