Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mr. Sprocket follows me to court

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007.

Ever since I've been immersed in this case, that's all I've wanted to talk about, and my husband has been getting an ear full. I didn't even really want to go bicycle shopping in July, something my husband really wants to do. Every weekend all I wanted to do was spend every nonworking moment getting caught up on my trial notes. About a month ago, my husband made an offhand remark that maybe he would go to court with me one day, just to see for himself what my days have been like. I really didn't think it would happen since he started with a new company in late June, and they have been working him sixty hours or more a week with hardly a day off. It is the summer, and HVAC companies who service commercial buildings are very busy, and my husband's skills are in high demand.

After eight days without a break, Mr. Sprock told his boss he was taking a day off so he could spend the day with me. "After all," he jokingly said, "My wife is famous now. She was mentioned in the local paper." Yesterday I went shopping and splurged on a new tie and jeans for him because, if he was going to come to court with me, he wasn't showing up in one of his standard worn and faded t-shirts. He had to be presentable. Mr. Sprock wanted to experience the whole day like I do, riding the bus and the train to court. I said, "Okay, but you do realize that means we have to be walking out the door by a certain time, or we will have to drive."

We got up early this morning, and it looked like we would have enough time to get everything done. This also included an extra chore for me, of sewing on suspender buttons on Mr. Sprock's new pants. Mr. Sprock made us a great breakfast and lunch, and we also packed a blanket to sit on, just in case the unforgiving courtroom benches were too much. As we are rushing to get ready, I'm calling out the time, reminding my husband that we have to leave soon. As he starts to button on his white suspenders, he's realizing that they look like they have a few stains on them. I tried to remind him about taking care of that last night, but to no avail. So he tries to clean them up a bit and throws them in the dryer to dry. Minutes keep ticking by, and he's still not ready. I'm packing our lunch, getting extra water ready, and making sure I have my notebook, enough pens as well as all the material I've printed out for Dominick.

Two minutes to go the suspenders are miraculously dry, and my husband is finally putting on his tie. The problem is, he can't remember how to tie a double Windsor knot. "Why do I have to wear a tie" he asks, totally frustrated that he can't remember how to do it and wanting the easy way out by not wearing one. "Because if you're going with me to court, I'm asking you to wear a tie," I reply. I'm watching the minutes tick down to when we have to leave and he still can't get the Windsor knot figured out. He keeps trying. It's now about eight minutes past when we were supposed to leave. Taking the bus and train are now history, and we will have to drive. As we get in the car, Mr. Sprock is still trying to get the tie together, so I have to get us there. On the freeway, the traffic is unexpectedly light through a good portion of the San Fernando Valley, but I'm expecting bumper to bumper once we reach the Hollywood Freeway. As I pass the first freeway traffic sign with travel times, it says it's a 25 minute drive to downtown LA. I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing we will have plenty of time to get to court.

Mr. Sprock finally abandons trying to remember how to do a double Windsor, and settles for a single. Success. He's not happy with how it looks, but at least it's presentable. As I'm driving, he gets his coat jacket from the rear seat and notices a stain on the left sleeve near the cuff. I knew I should have looked over all of his clothing before we left the house. He immediately goes to work, putting some soda water on the stain, and rubbing the stain on his jeans. "Don't get it on your pants!" I tell him. "Oh, it will be dry by the time we get to court," he confidently replies. We park in the budget lot, and walk to the building.

Up on the 9th floor, I see Dominick sitting with the two cameramen in the hallway, and I introduce him to my husband. He had a flesh colored bandage over his nose, and everyone is making up funny stories as to what happened. I knew the real story before we left the house, and was happy to see that he was feeling okay and just a little banged up. Inside the courtroom, I see ccarrolladams (CCA) is already in his regular seat, chatting it up with two trial watchers next to him. As we sit down, I ask Dominick for a favor. My older sister, just having found out yesterday that I've been sitting next to Dominick at trial, told me I would never have to sew her another thing ever, if I would get for her, a signed copy of Vanity Fair. Dominick asks her name and signs the page his article is on. Right after, one of the cameramen asks Dominick if he will sign his M&M's wrapper. We all laugh. I pass the package of materials I've printed off to Dominick and he immediately starts devouring Kim's blog, The Darwin Exception. I start pointing out everyone in the room who arrives to Mr. Sprock.

The other blogger Carolyn Kellogg is here. LAist, where she blogs, recently did an interview with her. I see the gentleman who attended the Blake trial in the back row near the door. Spector finally shuffles into court with the little wife and bodyguards. Mr. Sprock turns to me and says, "Who's the woman wearing the pregnancy top?" It's Rachelle. (For the rest of the day, my husband asks anyone who will listen if they think she could be pregnant.) She's got on a matching top and pants, but the top looks like it belongs on someone who's six months or more in the family way. It has all these pleats in the front, and these strange sleeves that are all puffed around the elbows, and I'm reminded of the big poofed sleeves the men wore in The Three Musketeers. And her hair looks terrible. What can one say about couples that dye to match? Maybe after she styled Spector's rug, she passed the color bottle to her own head. Her hair is dead flat straight. It's obvious she hasn't had her ends trimmed in months, and, her whole head is full of split and broken ends. One of the reporters said, "She looked much better as a streaked blond." Like I've mentioned before, she looks best with her hair pulled back so you can see her face.

Dominick says he saw a show at the Geffen Playhouse over the weekend and it was great. He asks me if I've ever been. "Once," I reply, "To see one of my long time dear clients, Penny Fuller." "I know Penny!" Dominick says. "She was a good friend of my late wife." I tell him that whenever Penny comes to town, she always makes a point to get a session with me. One of the reporters in the back row asks Dominick, "Did Lindsay Lohan punch you out?" I see Spector's single fan along the back row. A tall large man in a nice suit (he looks almost like a mob lawyer), comes in and goes up to Rod Lindblom to shake his hand. He's then introduced to the family.

Ciaran tells Dominick that Michelle Caruso quit the paper she was with, and was hired as a senior editor at The Star. Ciaran says she's a fun girl, and he really likes her. This is a good move for her, and he mentions that she might come back to trial later in the week.

For a long time, everyone thought that Spector's former assistant Michelle Blaine, who knew Phil since she was a young child and worked for him for about eight years, was the one who hired Rachelle as her assistant. Well, that story isn't exactly accurate. The reality is, it was Spector who met Rachelle (who knows where), and Spector ordered Michelle to hire Rachelle as her assistant. Seems the latest Mrs. Spector had Phil in her sight glass for a long time, and marrying Spector is a probably her own Bonnie Lee Bakely dream come true. I'm sure it must have been difficult for Michelle, forced to have an assistant that she absolutely hated with a passion.

The attorneys have been in camera with the Judge, and they finally emerge around 9:43 am. A few minutes later, Roger Rosen's girlfriend arrives and sits on the defense side beside Rachelle. Brunon is not in the well of the court; he's sitting in the second row of benches behind Rachelle. Mr. Sprock (a fan of any music before Beethoven), excitedly tells me that CCA knows all about an incredible Italian record label, Fone. You have to hear an album produced by this guy on a decent sound system to truly appreciate it.

The first witness up is Marc Scott Taylor, a forensic scientist who does general criminalistics work and DNA analysis. He does have a degree...a bachelors degree, in Zoology but that's about it. I'm wondering if with this degree, he's done any shotgun wound testing on animals, because that's the only way I can think this guy is going to be relevant to the defense case. Taylor makes a point to say that he did all the course work for his Masters, but he went to work for the LA County Sheriff's crime lab, and never wrote his master thesis. Whoop-de-do. What's the point of going to school then? We hear lots more boring testimony about DNA extraction, RFLP testing and the current method, PCR that's used around the world. His lab is one of the first labs to go "online" using DNA testing.

During all this make you snore testimony, I exchange some notes with Dominick about Rachelle's hair, basically everything I've already written about. I look over at Rachelle and she's already got her blankie wrapped around her. The jury is listening to the witness, but I rarely see a note being taken. I think, "What would they write, anyway?" Spector's hands are in his lap, and not where I would normally see them. I can't see any shaking. The witness states that DNA can transfer just by touching a pen. A juror picks at their nails. Now we are finally getting to something. Taylor states that saliva is the preferred reference sample for DNA, because it's one of the most concentrated human fluids for DNA. It has more DNA than blood. Is the defense trying to imply with this witness, that Spector didn't have anything to drink, that his DNA being on the brandy snifter glasses is just transfer DNA, and could have gotten there through Lana kissing him? Ewwwww!

The witness is breezing along testifying but he says something, claims something about a stain, (I'm a terrible reporter; I totally miss the statement) and AJ is objecting faster than I can blink and a sidebar is called. It appears Plourd didn't lay the proper foundation for the question. About this time Linda Deutsch has a coughing fit that just won't stop. Dominick is really worried about her. Several people offer Linda water, but she waves them off. The bailiff brings Linda a glass of water which she finally accepts. Soon, it's revealed that this blood stain is the dried blood that Dr. Lee collected in a post-it paper. Still, it's puzzling, why the defense is even bringing this up. I check in with my husband, and he writes me a note on my pad, asking when the break is. He's fidgeting all around, and I think he needs to use the bathroom. I tell him 25 more minutes at least. Now Taylor says the blood sample has tissue in it.

I think this testimony is pointless. Why is the defense getting testimony of the minutia of comparing this blood sample with the control sample taken from Lana? The reporter's don't think this blood stain Dr. Lee collected was in contention that it was Lana's. "The sample could not be excluded from coming from Ms. Clarkson. The sample is rarer than one in 1.8 billion." The blood flake Dr. Lee collected would not dissolve, so it was harder to get it to back into solution. Mr. Sprock asks me "What's the point of this?" And soon it becomes clear. Apparently, this expert witness says post-it notes are used all the time to collect evidence; he's even heard that at a forensic conference. After all, it's only paper. So this is to try to rehabilitate Dr. Lee's collection procedures. Rosen passes Plourd a note. A juror looks out at the gallery. We wait it seems like endless minutes for AJ to get up and cross.

AJ gets Taylor to admit that he doesn't have a master's or Ph.D. degree, and that he doesn't know the particular luminol formula that was used.

Q: Evidence envelopes are handled a bit more carefully?

A: Probably.

Even after Jackson does a demonstration with a post-it pad, the witness is still firm that post-it paper is quite acceptable to collect evidence in. The sticky side being the part that is used. After a question by Jackson the witness insists that when he received the item, the dried blood was attached to the sticky area. As a last point, Taylor has to admit that his lab is not ASCLAD certified. Plourd tries to redirect his witness.

Q: Does someone has to be a histologist to do DNA testing?

A: No.

Q: In order to look at blood?

A: No. It's better to look at blood via testing verses under a microscope. A presumptive test is better.

When Plourd asks about someone possibly getting "prime rib" on their clothes, the witness says. "Well, with prime rib, you could be splashing blood, possibly; a better example is steak sauce."

Both sides are finished with Taylor, and Steven Dowell is the next witness for the defense. And right after the first question, Jackson calls for a sidebar. Since this takes a while, the reporters talk about Rosen's "non-presence" in front of the jury. One reporter thinks Rosen is a perfect example of a "smarmy, West LA lawyer," and I have to agree. When the attorneys step away from the bench, it appears the prosecution won that sidebar, because the defense moves onto their only other issue with Steven Dowell.

Steven Dowell testifies that he was at a meeting where the missing tooth was discussed. This is all just to get on the record, that the LASO crime lab makes mistakes, and gives the defense the ability to imply that the potential missing evidence could have been in that broken vial with the missing teeth. A few questions later, Dixon stands up to perform the cross.

Steven Dowell followed the proper procedures when he found the broken vial. He documented what he discovered and notified the doctor in charge of the case. Plourd asks a redirect question.

Q: Was Dr. Herold involved in trying to determine if the pieces were missing.

A: Yes.

Dixon recrosses.

Q: An this was tooth material?

A: Well, that's what they believed it to be.

The afternoon break is finally called, and we get a chance to stretch. Mr. Sprock isn't in need of the bathroom like I thought, he's in need of some caffeineto wake himself up. He tells me he had to keep pinching himself and move around to try to stay awake. All those fourteen to sixteen hour work days have been taking their toll. He takes off for the first floor cafeteria to get some black tea. I look on over at the defense side, and I see Brunon talking to a woman who I guess is his wife with two late teenaged looking children. Later, in the hallway at lunch, it's a good guess that this might be his family. One of the court liaison officers comes over to speak to Dominick, Ciaran and Steven. Apparently in anticipation of the jury visit to the Castle, the court is going to have a meeting with all the members of the press next Tuesday at 8:30 am. Steven makes a passing comment that bloggers are not considered mainstream and should be included. I chuckle, because we both know I won't be one of the press selected to cover the viewing. Even so, I will go to this meeting just to cover what decisions are made, and report who gets to go.

When my husband finally gets back upstairs (seems he had a problem getting on the right elevator) he has purchased a bag of M&M's. I read him the riot act that he can NOT be caught chewing these by the bailiff. He says, "Well, as long as she doesn't see me." I remind him that the Judge will be watching too. He promises me he won't eat them during testimony.

When we go back on the record, Rosen calls the next witness, Richard Munisteri. This is an associate counsel for the House of Blues, who received a subpoena for certain documents. All this witness is here for, is to show Lana Clarkson's work schedule for the week prior to her death, and that she didn't work that Tuesday. This is the only way that the defense can get on the record as part of their case, that Lana could have attended Greg Sims's impromptu party at his St. Regis hotel room. It will be difficult for the prosecution to verify whether or not Lana ever did attend this party, because the hotel was torn down to make way for condos. Where in the world would they find people who might remember a party, or even the hotel records? My husband writes me a note asking what was the date of the murder.

After they are finished with this witness, there is another sidebar and the lunch break is called early. Dominick had a lunch date set up with the prosecutor on the Menedez case, so CCA and my husband have lunch together at a table near by. CCA brought me a DVD copy of Tigerland. I'm so excited! I've received hate mail telling me that Rachelle was never in this movie, she never played the part of a stripper and that she is a musician, and that I should get my facts straight. However, a very reliable source told me that yes, Rachelle is in the movie as an extra, dancing topless around a stripper pole in the background behind the principal actors. I'll try to watch the movie as soon as possible and report back to all of you.

During lunch, I leave a message for my sister in Florida that I never have to sew for her again. My husband, very irritated with the settings of the A/C in the courtroom asks CCA if he knows where the thermostat is in the courtroom so he can fix it. CCA, chuckling, tells him it's behind the judge's bench, and his hopes of fixing the A/C are dashed.

Back in the courtroom, my husband points to Spector, and says, "He looks like he's about to pass gas." He's in a strange position. He's standing in front of his special chair, facing it. His hands are on the arm rests, and his right knee is bent at 90 degrees, the knee resting on the seat of the chair. This pained expression is on his face. Beth Karas enters the courtroom. When we go back on the record, it appears the defense doesn't have any more witnesses! They are deleting some witnesses, and tightening up their case. They could rest this week, even as early as tomorrow! Holy cow! No one is expecting this, not even the prosecution, who thought the defense would be continuing all through next week. The defense asks if they can present Dr. Lee's testimony from the evidentiary hearing, because it appears he is "unavailable." Dixon gets up to object to that, and presents some arguments to the Judge to, show due diligence that the defense made every effort to get Dr. Lee here. And then a bombshell is revealed. Dr. Lee was never put under subpoena to testify. What a big screw up that was. It was just a good faith "hand shake" that he would be available. Dr. Baden is not going to testify. Looks like no more big guns expert witnesses. I find that interesting. The reporters tell me that Dr. Baden was here this weekend but he flew back to New York. And the last thing, the defense would like to see in advance a text of the potential jury instruction regarding the missing "evidence."

The Judge turns down all the the requests by the defense. The Judge points out that they did not prove to the court that they made every effort to ensure Dr. Lee would show up, so they do not get to use his prior testimony outside the presence of the jury. Second, no way in hell is he going to deviate from proper court procedure and give them an advance on that jury instruction because he hasn't heard all the testimony yet, so at this point he doesn't even know what the specific instructions will be. The Judge and the prosection will be going to the murder scene sometime on Monday, August 6th, to preview the scene and ensure there is no OJ staging. If everything is hunky dory, then the jury visit will go forward.

Rosen tells the Judge that they are still working out issues regarding the press and this visit. He spoke with Sandi Gibbons and they are pretty close on some issues but far apart on some others. Rosen then brings up the computer hard drive and that they haven't been able to review all the materials yet. This will impact the witnesses they are going to call tomorrow, and they may have to recall them. Sometime during this whole discussion, the Judge tells the defense that they can not rest until after the jury visit.

Then the issue of Cutler leaving for Westlake is brought up. The Judge asks Spector if that's agreeable to him. "Yes," he replies. I can't remember if it's the Judge or the prosecution who brings up a prior case where something similar occurred during a trial of one of the Manson accomplices, and because another attorney took over for a prosecutor that was killed during the trial, the decision to let another attorney take over was turned over on appeal. The Judge made it clear to Spector, that, if he decides to let Cutler partake in the closing argument, then he will forfeit his right to an appeal on the grounds of ineffective counsel. The Judge asks Spector if he still agrees, and Spector replies, "I'll talk with him (Cutler) about that." His voice is low, raspy. It sounds to me like he's got laryngitis.

The Judge then brings in the jury, and informs them that there's good and bad news. He informs them that they might be going out on a trip to the Castle on August 9th. There's a possibility of that. And, he understands that there is a possibility that one alternate, #6, may not be able to make that viewing. It remains to be seen, since it appears she has a prior commitment. And, that they need to start preparing themselves for the end of the case, and that deliberations will be held on Fridays also, so they may need to make arrangements for that. The jury is excused, and Plourd tries to get photos of Lana, during the filming of movie roles, holding guns. The Judge had already ruled on this, but now the defense makes a last ditch plea, showing the actual photos to the Judge. He still denies the request stating the photos are irrelevant. If you want to call the people who trained her for the roles and how to use a gun, that's one thing, but photos, no way. Brunon makes a last ditch effort to get these images in front of the jury saying, "It has some relevance," and the Judge replies, "It doesn't have enough for me."

There is some discussion involving Dr. Pena, and possible exculpatory evidence that the prosecution brought forward for advice from the Judge on whether or not this potential evidence was exculpatory, and the Judge felt it wasn't, and isn't allowing the evidence in. However, that information will still be provided to the defense team in an unredacted form.

The Judge finally leaves the bench, and the reporters take their time leaving the courtroom. We are all still reeling that the defense has shortened up their case, and is not going to bombard the jury with more expert witnesses. Maybe they are seeing the writing on the wall, and taking a better temperature of the jury, and showing them those disgusting photographs of Lana's teeth and tongue all over again with more experts. Before I leave the courtroom, I make a point to tell the family attorney about something I observed during the morning break, that I felt he needed to be aware of. He thanked me for that information.

Outside the courtroom, we linger a bit with Dominick and Mr. Sprock brings up the maternity looking top on Rachelle and whether or not she's pregnant. Dominick says, "I can't even think of them together!" And we have a laugh about that. With us chatting, are two other trial watchers, a husband and wife who were sitting on the other side of CCA. My husband was talking with the wife, right before leaving the courtroom, about sneaking up behind Phil, and giving a little tug on his head rug. The wife put her head down to keep from laughing because she said had to resist a desire to do exactly that herself! Outside the courtroom, my husband and the woman joke about this some more, and when Spector and his entourage leave and pass by us, my husband visits the idea again.

Walking back to our car and the drive home, Mr. Sprock said he had a good time today, except for when he had a hard time staying awake during the morning session.

I almost forgot to mention that Steven Mikulan has a new entry up at the LA Weekly. He got a scoop and interviewed Sara Caplan. It appears that all the reporting about Sara Caplan going to be hauled in front of Judge Fidler on Friday or Monday were just that. Rumors. According to Steven, the court liaison's office and Ms. Caplan, had not heard a thing about that.