Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Castle

Thursday, August 9th.

On Monday, I had asked Dominick if I could ride with him to the Castle for the jury site visit. He said sure. I think it's the only favor I've ever asked of him, besides signing two issues of Vanity Fair for my older sister. I didn't know how to get to Alhambra and didn't want to try to find parking on the correct street. If I hitched a ride, I'd avoid all that. Dominick said he wouldn't know where to have his driver pick me up, and I told him that he didn't need to pick me up at all. I would meet him at his hotel and find local parking nearby, in the structure where Virgin Records is located. I could easily walk to his hotel from there. Dominick says he plans on leaving at around 9:00 am, and I tell him I will be there a little bit before nine.

I get to the Chateau Marmont way early, and wait on the street for a little while before I decide to head up to the hotel, and let him know I'm there. Dominick beats me to it, walking down the driveway looking for me. We take off from the Chateau about 8:45 am. I get introduced to Dominick's driver once I get in the car, but for the life of me I can't remember his name for certain. I think it was Justin. We make great time, and arrive at the press staging area. We're early, but there are a handful of press already there.

Peter Hong of the LA Times is there along with other LA Times staff and Court TV staff. Looking up at a house perched on top of a slight hill, I see the owners out on their front porch with binoculars, watching the reporters down below. Camera operators are already setting up their tripods for when Linda Deutsch comes down to report. I count eight tripods already. Peter brought a table, several chairs, bagels and cream cheese for the reporters. Court TV went in with Peter and brought donuts and coffee. Harriet Ryan is already there and mentions something to the effect of, "Peter, concerned for your heart, brought healthy food, Court TV brought the sugar." I'm offered to grab what I want, but I politely decline. I haven't eaten any commercial wheat or dairy in years. That special diet I've repeatedly mentioned. Beth Karas is there in a stunning short sleeved black dress, matching necklace and heels. I tell her the dress looks fabulos on her. There are several other familiar faces as well. Beth and Dominick grab two of the chairs to sit together and chat, and several of the reporters snap their picture together. I jokingly say, "This is how all the reporters look," and she and Dominick have a little laugh at that. I took one of them with my camera phone, too, and then my phone immediately died afterwards. So much for calling dini from the site to phone in a report. I forgot to charge the battery before I left the house.

The main street up to the front entrance of the house is blocked off, and there is an area off to the side where all the reporters are gathered with the table and chairs. Several of the smart cameramen brought hats. The other blogger, Carolyn Kellogg of LAist was smart enough to bring sun screen and that gets passed around to some forgetful people. The car with the Judge arrives and passes by the pool of the reporters and heads on up to the Castle. More reporters start to arrive. Russ, Ciarian, and Michael Christensen are here, as well as John Spano and Matthew K. (who's last name I know I will butcher if I try to spell it). Everyone is off in groups chatting, trying to get some shade under the Olive trees lining one side of the street. Michael C. and John Spano are reading the paper. The camera guys are checking their angles to try to get the best shot, and several of them brought their own chairs. They know the drill and have been through this before. In hindsight, it would have been nice if I had thought to pack a folding chair, but I don't mind sitting on the edge of the curb under the shade. The Asian looking Court TV reporter is here. I don't know her name and am too shy to go up to her and ask. There are motorcycle cops and cops on foot. More press continue to show up.

I see Sandi Gibbons made it. I look over my shoulder and see her talking to Ciaran. One of the witnesses on the stand, Officer Shawn Heckers is here on his motorcycle. One of the reporters clearly remembers he was the one who testified about plucking the anal hairs for the rape exam kit. Steven arrives. He's prepared because he has on a type of flak vest with lots of pockets. Perfect for the reporter on the go. At 10:11 am, the jurors arrive and pass by the pool of reporters. From this point, the countdown begins as to how long they will be on the site. I try to take a quick count as to how much press is here. I count about 30+ people. Many reporters are on their phones. I see Dominick is already being interviewed by the local Channel 2. In my immediate line of sight, I see four news vans with their antenna towers completely up.

I see Beth Karas and someone else (I forget to write who) walking down from the road that leads to the rear gate. Steven and I decide to walk up to the rear gate ourselves. It's a climb for me, and I'm slightly out of breath trying to keep up with him and not stop to take a rest. When we reach the back gate, one of the court liaison officers is there, along with a pool reporter. Soon after we reach the top, Officer Heckers drives up on his motorcycle and Steven and the photographer both take photos of him. Cathy, the liaison officer gets off the phone with the liaison officer that's at the front door and tells us a bit of news. One of the jurors walked all the way down the front stairs and back up again. It's one of the guys, who is tall, slender and has gray hair. Unfortunately, the other person who observed it doesn't know their juror number.

While at the back gate, I peer in to see if I can see anything. From where we are, I see some people off to the side, but they look like they are near the front of the house. I think one of them is Alan Parachini, but I'm not positive. One gentleman looks rather portly, and the other person is a woman and might be another court liaison officer. They are too far away for me to be sure. At the back gate, Steven and I take each others picture, and with not much visible, we decide to head back down to the street. I pass on the "scoop" to Ciaran about the one juror who walked down the front steps but he is unimpressed with the news. Oh well, lol. What do I know.

Back down at the staging area, I see Dominick is on his second TV interview. Afterwards, Dominick tells me that a woman on the corner was letting the reporters use her restroom. He and his driver took advantage of the generous offer. He said the woman and her son were watching the ball game. Outside, a woman and her young child come by and sell cold drinks to the reporters for .75 cents a piece. I had planned ahead and had gotten something at the gas station at Sunset and Crescent Heights before I walked over the the Chateau.

I talk to Carolyn Kellogg about reading on LAist where two of their top editors/correspondents were hired by mainstream newspapers. One reporter comments, "Internet bloggers are the new trout farm." There are two helicopters overhead the entire time, and at one point I thought there might be three. I notice that Peter has a practical hat on that has sun protector flaps hanging down. As the temperature rises, people are trying to grasp every tiny spot of shade. The jurors have been in the castle for over an hour now, and people are speculating that they will be done anytime now. I spot two officers on bicycles and see that Miriam Hernandez from local Channel 7 is here. At 11:25 am, we get the news that the jurors are finished with the site visit.

The reporters crowd around the microphones, trying to get the best spot. Several reporters are sitting on the ground right in front of the group of microphones, and Harriet goes and gets a chair that she places right next to the one Dominick is sitting in. Steven comments, "I think they wanted to do this when the sun was directly overhead. Cue the sun!" Earlier, while we waited, Ciaran entertained a few of us with limerick poetry. And we wait for Linda Deutsch to arrive. I'm standing, and my back is starting to ache terribly. Finally, someone is coming down the hill. We get a message that the jurors will be done in abut five minutes. So, I guess the earlier report was incorrect.

Linda finally arrives and as she steps up to the group of microphones she gives us a big smile.

more to come....