Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Voir Dire, Part II

Sherri Rae Rasmussen, victim

This is an unedited draft entry. I will try to edit it over the next few days. Sprocket.

Friday, February 3rd, 2012
When I get up to the 9th floor, the security station isn’t even opened yet. I made it with one minute to spare.

8:00 am. Matthew McGough is already here. When we get into Department 104 and take a seat to wait for things to get going, Matthew introduces me to Detective Dan Jamarillo.

A few minutes later, Arlene and Pat Kelly from the Public Information Office (PIO) call us into the ante chamber and give Matthew, Lisa and myself our press badges for the trial. While I’m getting my badge, I see Eric Harmon, Alan Jackson and their clerk Monique from the Major Crimes Division breeze by. I wonder why they are here.

Arlene and Pat and DDA Paul Nunez chat. They are going over with him the available seats. I believe I hear Pat say there will be 16 media seats. The female friend (or family member) of Lazarus’ arrives and soon after Scott Young enters. There are several family members here for both sides. There is a tall slender older gentleman with the victim’s family that I’ve never seen before. At first, I think this might be attorney John Taylor’s partner David Ring of Taylor Ring but I’m remembering him as much younger, more youthful in the photo on their web site. It’s the sharp 20/20 producer Lisa who identifies him as John Ruetten. (pronounced ‘RUT-en’) This is the first time I’ve seen him at court since I’ve been covering the case. If the Rasmussen’s had any differences in the past with Ruetten, they have put them aside and are presenting a united front.

The woman who I thought was Courtney Overland in a pre-trial hearing is here. She has darker hair than Courtney and it's pulled back into a tight bun. Courtney and this woman have some facial features that are similar to Mark Overland and I’m wondering if she could be another daughter. Courtney enters Department 104, drops off some things at the defense table and goes back out.

Major Crimes Division is here on another matter that went by so quickly I didn’t catch it. As they leave the courtroom I exchange hellos with Alan and Eric.

Judge Perry takes the bench. He goes over with counsel those juror numbers that they will excuse after reading their questionnaires. I believe they excused 13 of the original 84. Judge Perry explains how the questioning will go. The jurors will be seated in numerical order. They will seat the first 12 jurors in the jury box and continuing on in numerical order with the seats in the well and then the gallery. “The easiest way to do this is to think of the juror’s number as the juror’s last name,” Judge Perry tells counsel. “Their number is their number no matter what ‘seat” they are in.”

Judge Perry then tells counsel what he will tell the jurors about the case. That this was not an officer involved shooting. “This is a who-done-it. Who killed the woman who was shot in her home.” Judge Perry will explain the legal presumption (of innocence) again. Some jurors had some failure to understand that the defense does not have to prove innocence. The court will go over that before the attorney’s start to question the jurors.

The defense has an objection to Sherri Rae Rasmussen being referred to as “the victim.” The better practice is not to refer to parties, but to refer to them by their last names. Judge Perry is informed that Sherri Rasmussen did not take her husband’s last name. So Rasmussen can be called the alleged victim or Ms. Rasmussen. Lazarus can be called the defendant or Ms. Lazarus. Judge Perry does not want to hear them addressed by counsel by their first names.

The attorneys will question the jurors in two groups. Numbers one through fifty first. They will voir dire that group then challenge for cause then the peremptory challenges. The attorneys will have the second round (with jurors fifty-one through eighty-four) if they need it.

Courtney stands with her father and helps him to see and understand where the jurors will be while he’s at the podium. They call in the jurors. If there are any answers a juror wants to remain private then the court will hear them at sidebar.

Lisa and I won the two media seats in the lottery. It didn’t matter much because once the jurors were all seated there was plenty of extra space for Matthew, a KNX reporter and more members of Lazarus’ family in the back row behind the jurors. Matthew got a much better seat.

It’s 8:50 am. The bailiff takes a head count and they have seven missing jurors. We wait. The PIO staff move people around. Lazarus’ family is in the row behind the detectives on the right side of the courtroom. To my right is Lisa, and then two seats for Lazarus’ family. To my left are several members from Sherri Rae Rasmussen’s family. John Taylor, Nels and Loretta Rasmussen are here, as well as two female friends of the Rasmussen’s.

I overhear the woman who I think is Judy or Jane tell someone that Scott Young is her brother-in-law. Whether or not Lazarus is guilty of this crime, it’s evident her family is here in force to support her. The woman who I thought was Courtney at a pre-trial hearing is in the gallery sitting next to a middle aged man who appears to be either Indian or middle-eastern descent.

Counsel are still at sidebar. Several jurors seated in the gallery turn around to look at those of us in the very back row. At sidebar, the attorneys are questioning a few jurors one at a time. This could be jurors that asked on their questionnaires to speak confidentially, and not in open court. It’s still all on the record, they just get some privacy.

Vania Stuelp who used to work for the PIO is here. She gives me a big smile and says hello. Last I heard she was back working for TMZ but I don’t know if she’s still with them or not. Pat Kelly tells me the PIO is down to a staff of five. A few years ago, they had seven.

The juror at sidebar goes back to their seat and another juror is called up to sidebar.

One of the sheriff’s closes the second inner door to the courtroom, silencing any residual noise from the hallway. Another juror goes up to sidebar while another juror from the gallery goes to the restroom. Terri Keith from City News comes in late and squeezes a seat into the last row. I think two additional jurors are excused for cause and then Judge Perry addresses the remaining jurors inside the courtroom.

“Now is the time that the attorneys will get the chance to talk to you and go over your responses on the questionnaire. (We) appreciate the time you took to answer the questions. It’s always interesting reading,” Judge Perry tells the jurors. There’s a bit of laughter with his last statement, and just the way he nuanced his words. “This is not an officer involved shooting. This is more of a ‘who-done-it’, if I could make that expression,” Judge Perry adds. “We’re using numbers to refer to you. It makes the questioning go faster and easier for us to keep track. The attorneys do have a list of your names.”

Judge Perry goes over the “founding principal’s of our jury system” with the group, and explains the charges “are just charges”. The prosecution “accuses someone of a crime. It is not evidence. Witness testimony is evidence.” Items will be received in evidence and that’s what you will base your facts on at trial. Judge Perry goes onto explain that it’s not like how courts are portrayed in the movies. “Sometimes people have the idea that the defense has to prove their innocence.” (Well no one? has ever? (snip) And that’s the way it’s always been (in this country). “The prosecution accuses (the defendant of a crime). It’s their burden.” (Okay, prosecution, put up or shut up? ???) “The defendant does not have to prove innocence. The prosecution has to prove guilt.”

Judge Perry then asks the same question of the jurors (if the defense has to prove innocence.). There are a few “no’s” from the jury. Judge Perry responds, “I just gave you the answer.” He then gives them a clear distinction. “Some of you may be thinking, ‘I wonder what he or she did?’ (The correct question would be) I wonder what he or she is accused of. See the difference? (snip) It’s up to them (prosecution) to convince the jury. If the defendant decides not to testify, it is not part of the case.”

“The (defendant has a) constitutional right not to testify and the jury can’t consider anything negative in that. The jury can’t even discuss it. Even mentioning in the jury room is cause for a mistrial. (snip) Jurors come in here and say they want to hear from both sides. Uu-uh! Not in a criminal case!”

Judge Perry continues along this vein, going over and over again the prosecution’s burden. Afterwards, he passes the questioning over to the attorneys to question jurors 1-50, and then onto peremptory challenges. He asks the jurors to speak up when answering. He reminds them that they are under oath.

Mark Overland goes first. As Courtney is helping him to the podium, he states that he’s never done this before, questioning one through fifty jurors. It’s usually one through twelve.

Overland starts off by saying he wants to talk to them about two elephants in the room so that they will only be concentrating on the evidence in the case.

First, Overland explains why he is using a cane and why Courtney Overland is helping him, often helping and directing him with her body close to his. “I have a genetic disorder that has caused me to lose my peripheral vision. It’s tunnel vision. (snip) I don’t want you to think, ‘Is he drunk?’ I’m going to need help in finding where you all are. There’s nothing creepy. My young daughter (Courtney), she’s here helping me out.”

Overland continues, “The second thing is, you’re not going to see Stephanie Lazarus walking around the halls. Although she’s not in an orange jumpsuit, she’s in custody. She hasn’t made bail, and that’s the only reason. She can’t make bail. (snip) So I’ll ask you not to consider that. (I think the jurors respond in the affirmative, that they will not consider that relevant.) Anyone have any problems with that?”

Judge Perry has allotted only an hour of questioning for each side. Overland starts with juror number one and slowly and methodically asks each one a question he has about answers on their jury questionnaire. The first juror was in the LAPD Explorer’s program at age 16. One of her friends was in it. She checked into it and liked it. Mark Overland takes his time questioning the jurors. It’s slow, methodical. I don’t know how he’s going to get through half the jurors in under an hour with this type of questioning.

The second juror was a teacher and did not feel that it would be fair to his students to be away for so long. He has to prepare the lesson plans and each week, they would get a new substitute teacher. This juror also personally knows a witness, one of the fingerprint examiners. He knows her outside of court. Overland asks him, “If I attack her character, would you have an issue with me?” I think the juror responded back, “I’m not going to attack your character.” There’s a bit of laughter in the room.

The next juror said on their questionnaire that they don’t watch things (movies, TV) that are “vulgar.” Overland asks her to explain what she means by that. She replies, things that have a sexual content and cussing. Overland responds, “Part of this case will have some sexual content. Will you be able to listen to testimony and judge it?” “Yes,” she replies.

Overland asks jurors about DNA, why they didn’t want to be on a jury, lots of questions based on what they did or didn’t answer on the jury questionnaire. One juror has a trip planned for March 12th. Another juror was a registered nurse in Chinatown for six years.

One juror stated they didn’t have any formal training about DNA. Their knowledge was based on TV shows, CSI, Bones. The juror would be more prejudiced to the DNA side (would be?) accurate. The juror mentions the OJ Simpson case. “I thought that case was a slam-dunk.” Overland asks if they watched the trial. “No, just based on the news... (snip) ... the glove.”

Most of the jurors did not want to serve because of the length of time the trial would take. With jurors that have friends or family members in law enforcement, Overland asks many detailed questions about their relationship with them and if the relative talks about their work with them.

Another juror was a postal inspector for over five years and testified as an expert witness in court; before that a lab technician, doing research and development on different products. One juror worked for the LAPD in the Georgia Street Juvenile Division as a civilian employee for about a year. Another woman didn’t want to serve because she would miss her golf game. She plays twice a week. She can’t imagine not playing golf for six weeks. Overland asks if she could play golf on the weekends and she replies, “Weekends are too expensive.” Overland asks if there’s anything else. She replies something to the effect that she meets judges on the golf course. With a surprised tone in his voice Overland says, “During the week!!!!???” And the courtroom breaks out in laughter.

Judge Perry calls for the morning break and the jurors file out. Once the jurors have left, Judge Perry states, “The defense has taken their one hour.” Overland objects, and I believe he mentions some case law about a fair trial. Judge Perry replies, “Objection over ruled.”

During the break one of the mainstream press tells me that when John Ruetten came into court, he was holding hands with Loretta Rasmussen.

When the morning break is over, the prosecution now gets to question the jurors. DDA Shannon Presby gets up and starts questioning random jurors.

SP: Juror #18, do you think the media always gets everything right?
J#18: No.
SP: Juror #20, Can you be fair? On your questionnaire you indicated you were court marshaled.
J#20: I was in Vietnam. In base camp, I went to sleep on guard duty.
SP: Was there a court proceeding?
J#20: Yes.
SP: There was punishment?
J#20: Yes. I went from an E4 to an E1 (private) and my pay was diminished.
SP: It didn’t stop the bullets (from coming) did it?
J#20: No.
SP: Was there a prosecutor? Was it fair?
J#20: Yes.
SP: Is that going to affect you (for or against) the defense?
J#20: No.

Presby questions another juror about their answers and then addresses the group as a whole. “How many of you commute, raise your hands? How many of you have a first, main route and a back-up route?” Presby then addresses a juror, #48 directly, asking them the exact same questions. “Who else?” Presby then asks them what are some of the things that would make you choose one route over the other. The news, weather, or if you are late for work or not. “Does anyone think the color of the car (in front of you) makes a difference if they take the main route or the back-up route?”

(Not sure if this is Presby’s statement, or an answer.) “The color has nothing to do with it. Does breakfast have anything to do with it?” One juror says, “Yes. Pit stop!” And the room breaks out in laughter.

Presby continues with his lesson. “We all make decisions every day. There are some facts that are important and some facts that don’t matter. Do you think you will have a difficult time determining the facts that don’t matter?” No one in the group speaks up.

“Does anyone have children? How about boys? Let’s say you have boys that love to play baseball. But they are not allowed to play in your backyard, because it’s small. Your son’s friends are at the home in his room and you tell them you’re going to the store and you’ll be back in an hour. When you come back, you open the door and you see glass on the floor. There’s a hole in the window. There’s a baseball in the center of the floor, signed by Matt (Camp? Kamo? Camero? Campbell?), and you know you took your son to the game where he got a signed baseball. There are mitts and bats in the yard. And you ask your son if he was playing baseball. “No Dad. I was not playing baseball. You know that park? Maybe one of them were playing and knocked the ball...” The park is a whole block away, and your back yard has tall mature trees. What is the reasonable explanation? Your son was playing ball. Why is that one reasonable? Because all the evidence points to that story. The reason I ask you this is because of direct and circumstantial evidence.” Presby starts to explain the difference between the two types of evidence to the jurors. Direct evidence comes from an eye witness. All the other evidence is circumstantial evidence.

Presby picks jurors out at random, asking them questions about the story. He also points out the evidence of the story to the jurors. The bats, gloves in the back yard. The glass in the house and the ball in the kitchen. The tall trees in the back yard and the ball park a block away.

SP: It’s really common sense and logic. The law says that circumstantial and direct evidence are equal. When one is reasonable and the other...

Mark Overland calls out, “Objection! He’s instructing the jury!”

Judge Perry then takes out papers and reads the exact law to the jurors. When he’s finished, Presby asks the room, “Does anyone think they will have difficulty separating reasonable from unreasonable?” Presby then goes onto another narrative. “Let’s say your brother lives in another town. Your neighbor sends over a piece of mail from your brother that was opened. (Inside is a photo of your brother.) Does that (the fact that the mail was opened), make you doubt that’s a picture of your brother?

Some jurors answer “No.”

Presby continues. “What about the fact the envelope was opened? (It doesn’t) because that’s my brother. (snip) Would it depend on the type of photo?”

One juror brings up the possibility of the photo being photo-shopped.

Presby asks that juror, “Would it be reasonable to trick you on your brother?” The juror initially responds, “Not really,” but then adds, “What if he has something against you? What if he slept with your wife?” Presby responds, “Certainly that’s a possibility, but now you’re adding (additional?) facts.” Presby counters, “But do you think it’s reasonable?” The juror answers, “No.”

Shannon Presby is finished and DDA Paul Nunez gets up to speak to the room. Nunez starts off by thanking the jurors for their patience. Nunez then brings up what the prosecution feels is “the elephant in the room” and that’s the fact that the defendant is a woman. Nunez picks out a juror number and asks them if this would affect her decision. The juror replies, “No.” He then goes onto ask if the juror thinks they can give both sides a fair trial. “Yes,” is the reply. “The fact that the defendant is a woman, that would not change your decision? “No,” is the reply.

Nunez points out to the room, “It’s kind of different. It’s something we don’t normally see. Nunez also asks another juror if it would make any difference if she was a police officer. “Whether it’s a teacher, whether it’s an attorney, everyone get’s a fair trial. (snip) So, if the burden of proof has been met.....then after that....after careful deliberations.....can you say a guilty verdict? Number 42, So if a burden of proof has been met, (can you say guilty?)” “Yes,” is the answer. “Does anyone need further clarification?” Nunez looks around the room after waiting a moment and says, “I see no responses.”

Nunez then goes onto ask specific questions of a few jurors. He then asks the room, “Does anyone have any strong attitudes about police officers being guilty in this case?” There are no answers. “Are you able to think freely and look at (investigation?) on your own?” I think there are a few yes answers from the room.

Nunez moves onto questioning some jurors about their knowledge of DNA. The bailiff goes up to a juror in the gallery sitting at the end of the second bench row and tells them to close their book. (I think they were trying to read a book!) While this questioning is going on, Lazarus leans into Mark and Courtney Overland and whispers.

Nunez asks the room, “A question for you all. You’ve heard (this) occurred in 1986. (snip).... statute of limitations. Do you think it is unfair this case is being tried here, in 2012? (snip) The time this occurred, has nothing.... (it’s not unfair)” The room agrees.

Family attorney John Taylor gets up to leave. And that’s it for the prosecutions voir dire of jurors one through 50. Judge Perry excuses two jurors for cause. The court gives the jurors a fifteen minute break. When the court asks Overland if he has additional jurors for cause, Overland responds that he cannot answer that intelligently because the court did not allow further questioning of voir dire.

Overland then has a list of jurors and questions he wants to ask jurors related to their jury questionnaire. It’s my opinion only, that Overland is at a disadvantage here. Overland goes over a long list with Judge Perry. I list some of them below.

#38 Had a friend that was murdered.
#39 Had a friends in law enforcement. No explanation and doesn’t want to serve.
#40 Doesn’t want to serve. Too much of a time question.
#41 Didn’t answer question number 70.
#42 Did not answer question #68, feelings about police officer charged with a crime.
#45 Son-in-law works for immigration’s and custom’s import.
#48 Doesn’t want to serve; there are better uses of his time.
#49 If there’s DNA, it’s more likely that they’re guilty.

Overland continues, “ There are many questions that need to be answered that could be challenges for cause, and could be used for challenges.”

Judge Perry answers, “You’re on the record. Let’s bring the jurors back.”

After the jurors file in, Judge Perry addresses the room. “I have a few follow up questions for you.” Judge Perry then proceeds to asks Mark Overland’s questions he wanted to ask specific jurors for him. It’s my opinion that it doesn’t bode well for an attorney if the judge takes over part of your voir dire.

When Judge Perry gets to the juror who said there was a better use of their time, Judge Perry states, “I understand that. I’m not insulted by that.” There is a bit of laughter in the room. Judge Perry continues with Overland’s questions for jurors. Juror #39 asks to be seen at sidebar. Afterwards, Juror #39 is excused. Then a second juror at sidebar.

Then the prosecution and defense go through their peremptory challenges and it becomes musical chairs in the jury box of jurors from the gallery. After several challenges, I hear Presby state, “The prosecution accepts the jury. I believe I overhear Mark Overland state, “I’m lost.” Mark, Courtney and Lazarus confer for a moment then Overland excuses a juror. A new juror is seated and Presby says again, “The people accept the jury.” Overland excuses a few more jurors and Presby states again, “The people accept the jury.”

I observe that there’s lots of leaning in by Overland to whisper to Lazarus. His arm is around her shoulder, conferring with her. She’s most definitely involved in picking the jury that will decide her fate. Courtney Overland is standing very close, pointing things out to Mark.

The older female juror who wanted to play her golf game is excused. More jurors are excused on both sides. Each time the jury panel changes, there is a big conference at the defense table with Lazarus. Challenge after challenge continues on both sides now. At one point the people ask the judge for a moment before they decide. It’s 12:30 pm. Judge Perry has gone one half hour into the regular lunch hour, my stomach is screaming for some food. They went through the first 50 jurors and didn’t seat the panel yet. Judge Perry tells the court to return at 1:45 pm to continue voir dire with the second half of the panel.

Lisa and I have lunch in the cafeteria. I’ve brought my lunch and I try to catch up on my E-mail while I eat. I call Mr. Sprocket to find out about the car. He’s been working on it all week. (He’s almost finished installing the new fuel pump. On Saturday, the car news got worse. We discover the problem is actually a problem with the engine. Broken valve springs.)

1:46 pm: We’re back on the record but we are missing some jurors from the jury box. Linda Deutsch from the Associated Press and Terri Keith arrive for the afternoon session.

I see a new face in the courtroom sitting in the first bench row on the right side of the courtroom with the detectives. I’m guessing it’s another detective. Counsel is having a sidebar with a juror. I see Scott Young holding a soft cover paperback book along with a spiral notebook. When he puts the book down on the chair next to him I see that it’s the Holy Bible.

Mark Overland resumes questioning of the remaining jurors. “Is everybody nice and fresh after lunch?”, he asks. This time, Overland goes through is questions with a little bit more speed, but not by much. One juror participates in “crystal therapy.” Another juror, their father was a Sargent with the LAPD. One male potential juror was a biologist and now working towards his degree in theology. He studied DNA. Back in the 2002-2004 he worked in the medical field, working with bio-chips to identify DNA antibodies. I don’t have it in my notes, but I have a memory of a question to him asking him why he switched fields and is working towards his new degree. I have a memory of him responding, “I felt I needed to do it.”

After about 45 minutes, Linda Deutsch leaves Department 104.

Another juror has a relative who is a criminal defense attorney and another has a sister-in-law who is a doctor. When he asks her for information, about his own health conditions, he says, “She treats me like a patient. In and out quickly. She’s always been like that.” The room laughs at this answer. I stop taking notes to give my hand a rest. Overland gets through his questioning of the remaining jurors within his hour allotted time and Judge Perry calls the afternoon break.

I note Lazarus is intently writing at the defense table. At the break, several of the detectives in the first bench row are at the prosecution table and they all look to be in a discussion. I don’t know if the detectives are helping Presby and Nunez with voir dire or not. Nunez comes over to greet Loretta and John Ruetten. Earlier, a group of Lazarus’ family members were conferring. At 3:00 pm, Judge Perry calls for the jurors to come back into the courtroom. Several more jurors are excused.

Presby gets up to speak to the second group. Presby reminds the jurors about what the prosecution feels is the elephant in the room, that the defendant is a woman. He is asking if they will judge her differently because the defendant is a woman. He asks this group the same question that was asked of the first group. “Do you think it’s fair to have a prosecution after so many years?” Presby goes over reasonable explanations verses unreasonable explanations. He mentions the photo in the envelope and the baseball story example. He asks if they would have difficulty determining reasonable verses unreasonable. He talks about the two different routes to get to work and sorting out which facts are important and which facts are not. Presby asks the theologian juror a few questions. if their spiritual beliefs will interfere with him sitting on the jury. The juror responds, “No.” Presby asks if his understanding of biology and his faith, are those things in conflict. The juror says, “No,” again. He then asks the juror that some who are religious, have issues that only God can judge (others). “Judgement. (snip) Is that going to be a problem for you?” Again, the juror answers, “No.”

During the break, Sherri’s sister was introduced to me. She was thanking me for my blog. I was so flustered, I forgot her name. (I have to say, that it is a personal reward for me, to hear that my trial reporting notes have helped a family member, -victim or defendant- follow the trial when they are unable to attend.)

The prosecution is quickly finished with their voir dire and it goes to challenges for cause. There are no challenges for cause. The crystal therapy juror is excused by the prosecution I believe. It’s the defense’s turn and Mark Overland says, “Pass.” Judge Perry calls counsel to the sidebar. “Tell me what you think you’re doing,” he says to Overland.

Sidebar is quickly over and the defense has accepted the jury. The people excuse a juror. Overland looks at the jury box. Courtney assists him. They locate the new juror. Courtney and Mark confer with Lazarus. They accept the new jury. The people then excuse a juror. The defense accepts the jury again. Then the defense asks to approach the bench. I think one more juror is excused and then both the people and the defense accept the jury. It’s 3:30 pm and we have our 12 jurors! There are only about 13 more people left in the gallery. How are they going to get six alternates if both sides each get six challenges? The jury is made up of seven women and five men. The next six people in line are moved up to the front row seats. The people accept the alternates. I believe Overland is asking for a “random draw” for the alternates, but that doesn’t happen.

Then something amazing happens. The theologian juror is in the jury box and he raises his hand. He asks, “Who is going to pay for my expenses?” I drop my jaw and turn to Lisa and say, “Asleep at the wheel.”

Judge Perry you can tell is irritated. He says to the room, “We’ve been talking about hardship for several days now!” The attorney’s go up to sidebar. Another alternate is moved up from the gallery to the front row in the well. There are seven alternates now. The jury and the alternates are sworn in. After the swearing in, the theologian juror is excused. Judge Perry is tearing up paper at the bench. There is a random draw from the alternates for a juror to replace the theologian. It’s a woman. We have our new jury. Eight women, four men. As far as the alternates go, there are four men and two women. Judge Perry did what he knew he could do. He got a jury selected in a single day. At 3:40 pm, he gives the jurors a strong admonition about not researching the case or talking about the case. He explains what it means when the attorneys “stipulate” to a fact. He reminds them that statements by counsel are not evidence unless they are adopted by the witness. Judge Perry goes to great length to explain to them about not talking about the case. He goes over this over and over again with his jurors.

It’s 3:45 pm. Judge Perry mentions that the OJ Simpson case was held next door in Department 103. After that case, the legislature passed a law that jurors could not any financial payment for their stories for 90 days. Judge Perry tells the jury, "I hope no one has the idea that they can get a book deal (from being a juror on this case). That would be such a travesty.”

Two of the jurors have doctor appointment conflicts. Judge Perry asks if it’s possible that one juror move their appointment to the same day/time as another juror’s appointment. A last message from Judge Perry to his jurors. “Thank you in advance for you willingness to serve. We need jurors to decide cases. I think it will be an interesting case. (Again) ...(snip) we appreciate your willingness to serve.”

The jurors are excused and Judge Perry is off the bench before is 4:00 pm deadline. He’s speaking to counsel off the record at sidebar. And that’s it. I make it all the way home by train and bus.


Anonymous said...



Two questions;

Do you think that John Ruetten will be called by the defense, to testify?

How it is possible for you to report so much in detail?
Followed the Anthony case on video but your blog is superior to any videos.


Sprocket said...

Good Morning Christina,

John Ruetten will be on the prosecution's witness list. That's pretty much a given.

Thank you for your kind words about my reporting. I don't get "everything"; I do miss quite a bit, but I try to document the interesting things that I see and hear from my seat in the gallery.

Sprocket said...

I don't know if the defense will call Ruetten as part of their case-in-chief. His cross exam will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Great reporting, the small details are fascinating.

Judge Perry definately has a sense of humor and you really capture it. It appears there may be some "rub" between Overland and the Judge.

And it's scary the ex-biologist is studying theology, but I'm glad he was booted off the jury.

Can't wait until the next installment.

2th Prof said...

I really appreciate your reporting. I was a high school classmate of Nels and Loretta and share his profession. I was teaching their son in law when Sheri was killed and now teach their grandson. They are in my prayers.

Sprocket said...

2th Prof:

Thank you so much for your kind words. This work is a labor-of-love for me.