Monday, March 19, 2012

Going to Court: Pretrial Hearings

The Clara Shortridge-Foltz, Criminal Justice Center (CJC) is between Broadway and Spring St. on Temple. Sprocket.


I’m taking the train into downtown LA today to try to drop in on two pretrial hearings for cases that I might end up attending. My problem is, I believe both hearings are happening around the same time, in different courtrooms at opposite ends of the hall from each other.

One hearing is for Kelly Soo Park in Department 109, Judge Kathleen Kennedy’s courtroom. I know one of the prosecutor’s on the Parks case, DDA Eric Harmon is currently in trial in Dept. 105, so he may not attend and just let his co-counsel handle the hearing.

The other case was featured on CBS 48 Hours this weekend, “The Boy Next Door” accused serial killer Michael Gargiulo, who is scheduled to appear in Department 108, right across the hall. I don’t believe Park’s case will be going to trial this year, but Garulido’s could, since he’s been in LA County Jail since June 2008, an entire year longer than Stephanie Lazarus.

I am hoping to get up on the 9th Floor right around 8:00 AM to see if Dept. 108 or Dept. 109 might be open early so I can ask about what time each hearing will be heard.

I’m here on the 9th Floor. I’ll probably attend Soo Park’s hearing if it conflicts with Gargiulo. I'll have an update later on today.

8:13 AM
Several of Kelly Soo Parks supporters were waiting to go through the 9th floor scanners at 8:00 AM when I got on the 9th Floor. It’s an interesting mix of people young and old, caucasian and Asian. Hopefully, I'll have an update on both cases (if I can attend both) later today.

1:00 PM
I'm back home. I didn't even check on the Gargiulo case. In between house work I'll be updating my notes on this pretrial hearing later today. The only thing exceptionally noteworthy today is that Patricia (sp?) and Gregory (sp?) Redding, parents of victim Juilana Redding, 21 asked permission to address the court (and that was granted) about how long will it has taken for this case to come to trial and for their daughter to receive justice.

(Here's what happened after 8:13 AM today. Kelly Soo Park has been charged with felony murder in the death of Juliana Redding. Sprocket.)

8:19 AM
The other blogger who has been covering the case is here. She is a nicely dressed Asian-looking woman in a black suit who mostly reports on cases involving insurance fraud. I’m weekend super casual compared to her attire. There are about nine or ten people here for Park. Not as many as the last time I attended one of her pre-trial hearings in 2011 but still a formidable show of support for her. One has to admire the support and determination of her friends and family.

When I see DDA Eric Harmon clear 9th Floor security, I ask him if he thinks the hearing will take very long since I was going to try to hit another hearing in Dept. 108. Eric doesn’t think the hearing will take very long. I know that depends on if Judge Kennedy takes the bench right at 8:30 AM or if she’s like I remember, and doesn’t start until 9:00 AM or a bit after.

There is an entourage with Eric. I overhear that one individual is with the Santa Monica PD and the other individual is a Major Crimes clerk, Ariel (sp?). There is a couple with them. They all head down to the other end of the hallway to talk privately.

8:32 AM
I see Park arrive with another woman (who I later learn is a co-counsel) and when they clear security and enter the hallway they both turn down towards the other end of the hallway and enter the ladies room. I believe I’ve said this before. Park is a striking, statuesque Asian woman. Today I can see a light silk-type scarf peeking out beneath an eggshell trench coat. She’s wearing slacks and on her feet ballet like flats that look like they are are made of snake or alligator skin.

This photo of Park while she was still in custody after her arrest in 2010 and before she made bail does not do her justice.

Two men show up, obviously part of Kelly’s counsel/team and they start greeting all of Kelly’s supporters. The older man with blondish-white hair asks where Kelly is. I’m sitting across the hall from the majority of her supporters but I pipe up and tell him that I believe I saw her head towards the ladies room. Both gentlemen then head into Department 109.

As Park comes down to where her supporters are sitting, she greets everyone warmly. Lots of hugs are exchanged. It’s now that I seen her large gold handbag. Just then her attorney comes out of the courtroom into the hallway and Kelly reaches out her arm to him from wear she’s sitting and takes his hand. The younger looking man is very tall, easily over six feet and broad shouldered with longish hair.

8:43 AM
I see DDA Alan Jackson clear security, look at both ends of the hall and when he sees the rest of his team he heads down towards them.

8:45 AM
More supporters for Park show up and there are more hugs exchanged.

8:50 AM
When the prosecution heads down towards this end of the hall, I get up and follow them in.

DDA’s Jackson and Harmon confer with defense counsel. It’s now I realize that the woman who arrived with Park is co-counsel to the older gentleman.

Judge Kennedy’s bench still has the large collection of animal figurines on her right. Now the prosecutors are conferring with the female Santa Monica PD officer. She’s wearing a black pantsuit and her hair is pulled back in a ponytail at the base of her neck. Peeking out from her suit jacket is a light colored blouse with a dark lined pattern.

I finally get a glimpse of DDA Jackson’s tie. It’s a shimmering purple with a touch of maroon in the hue. It’s my memory that Jackson has a tie collection to rival the late writer Dominick Dunne. Harmon is wearing a bright red tie with his white shirt and dark suit. (DDA Jackson is running for District Attorney and DDA Eric Harmon is running for Judge. Sprocket)

Not long after I sit down, ABC 20/20 Producer Lisa Tomaselli takes a seat beside me in the gallery. I’m happy to see a familiar face.

Judge Kathleen Kennedy comes out from her chambers and she’s not yet in her robes. She’s wearing a form-fitting red jacket. It’s obvious she’s lost weight and looks fantastic.

At 9:00 AM Judge Kennedy takes the bench and I am thrust back into trying to write as fast as Judge Kennedy talks. It’s impossible. It was difficult when I covered the James Fayed case in her court and it’s the same today. Kelly Soo Park left her seat in the gallery and stood by her attorney in the well of the court.

Stephen Bernard and Alena Kilmianok for the defense

Harmon and Jackson for the people.

Judge Kennedy asks if counsel have worked out their differences (on the evidence).

Bernard speaks first regarding his motion to compel the people to turn over evidence. There were several items counsel was able to come to an agreement on. I believe they are asking for the sexual assault kit so they can perform their own testing. I believe there was additional DNA analysis performed and that was turned over to the defense. There were also evidence images that were turned over to the defense this morning.

The last item in contention is the defense is asking for written protocols for the (Santa Monica?) PD and the Coroner’s Crime Lab. The defense want’s their protocols and procedures for the (collection?) and storage of evidence.

SB: We’d like to have those. (snip) regard to whether the protocols (reflect?) as to how that protocol (was applied to the evidence collected?)...

The defense states the last item, photos of candles they came to an agreement on.

DDA Harmon speaks for the people. He tells Judge Kennedy that the protocols are not relevant.

EH: ....whether or not (fr? spec?) did nor didn’t follow protocols doesn’t have any bearing on (the) results or findings...

Harmon states the procedural manual is “four inches thick” and possibly 1,000 pages.

It’s not clear in my notes if the defense interjects that they don’t want the entire manual.

Judge Kennedy is not convinced by the prosecution’s argument and almost appears agitated with the prosecution’s argument.

Apparently, the defense only want’s the portion that relates to storage and collection of evidence.

It doesn’t matter at this point whether it’s relevant or not. That’s yet to be determine.

JK: I think you should turn it over. (snip) It may or may not apply. It may all lead to nothing but may lead to something. I’m ordering it turned over.

I believe she goes onto say something to the effect that what the defense wants is not “four inches thick”.

The defense states that Santa Monica PD was involved in the collection of biological evidence (as well as the coroner).

SB: We’re only looking for (the) protocols for the collection, preservation and storage (of evidence).

The defense believes it is relevant and their interest in the manual is a very narrow scope.

Counsel then moves onto the defense’s request for the transfer of physical evidence so that they can perform tests on it. One item is a pink wash cloth. The other item is the sexual assault kit. I believe Harmon states he has agreed to provide those.

EH: I need to speak to the lab to see how long (it will take) to make a split. (snip) And I don’t know how long (on the?) pink wash cloth. (snip) If we can come back in a few weeks... (snip) we’ll know.

Judge Kennedy asks counsel about turning over the manual material. I believe Harmon tells her they will make the phone calls today. Judge Kennedy asks if they can come back four weeks from now, on April 16th, 2012.

About this time a cell phone starts to go off in the gallery. It’s in Soo Park’s purse in the gallery and she tells the Judge she can’t turn it off.

JK: (angry) What do you mean you can’t turn it off!!!

Judge Kennedy then goes onto yell at the defendant that she can’t turn it off she should never have brought it into the courtroom. Judge Kennedy asks if there’s a window that the cell phone can be thrown out of.

It’s then that Kelly Soo Parks tells the court that it’s the tracking device that has gone off. (This device is not attached to her person but something she has to carry. That’s interesting.) Now we know why Park couldn’t turn the phone off. It wasn’t a phone. It was her tracking device!

Harmon then tells the court that the victim’s parents have traveled from Arizona in the hopes of speaking to the court.

The case is set at 0-90 today and in one month on April 16th, 2012, it will be at 30 of 90.

Harmon states by that time they will have complied with the defense discovery for four years.

There is some back and forth between Harmon and Judge Kennedy about the discovery materials and how long this has taken, the current defense has had the case for seven months and they are just now, requesting to test evidence. Judge Kennedy appears to get irritated with the prosecution again about this line of argument and reminds Harmon that Park’s prior counsel had a conflict.

In an irritated tone, Judge Kennedy states she would like to start the trial today. I believe she then states “It would be a fortuitous act. There are things that (still?) need to be tested.” The rights of the defendant verses the rights of the victim. Judge Kennedy states she doesn’t want to do a fruitless act that could be overturned (by appellate courts) later on.

The defense tells Judge Kennedy that they received 823 pages of discovery since January 23rd and they’ve had further discovery in today. They expect as the case moves forward to receive more discovery.

SB: We’ve had the case for 7 months. We’ve got 5,000 pages of un-redacted discovery. We’re still receiving evidence today. (snip) So if there’s a wash cloth back in to evidence (?) that has never been tested.... (snip) We’re not sandbagging or delaying the trial....

Harmon states that the discovery they handed over today was evidence in CD form that the defense already received in paper form. The prosecution expects that the defense will now want in paper form, evidence that was given to them in CD form.

EH: Discovery has now taken on whatever they request. (snip) It’s not fair to say we’re.... (I miss the rest of his statement.)

There is more discussion about the pink wash cloth. I believe Harmon states that the lab did some preliminary testing and determined there was no evidentiary value. And why didn’t they request it on day one? Now that the defense wants to test it, the prosecution wants to test it before handing it over to the defense.

Judge Kennedy is sounding irritated again.

I believe it’s Harmon that goes onto explain that the defense was handed evidence today, a CD.

EH: They want digital copies now. They’ve had hard copies (of the same material).

In the issue of Redding’s parents addressing the court, Judge Kennedy makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be (prejudiced? influenced?) by the facts of the case.

JK: I need not to hear things (relating?0 to (the?) merits of the case.

Redding’s parents get up from their seats in the gallery and approach the podium. Redding’s mother reads from a prepared statement.

It’s been four years since our daughter has been murdered. Our daughter (has) rights in the State of California to a speedy trial.

They are here to voice their concerns to....

She talks about the defendant being arrested in June of 2010. Twenty-one months have passed (since the defendant has been arrested). For four years our family has been shattered. (The defendant has been out on bail.) She’s had the opportunity to celebrate birthdays and holidays. (Their daughter has [not?] [had that taken from her?] We implore the court to bring this trial....

After Juliana’s mother stops speaking, Judge Kennedy asks them to identify themselves for the record.

Patricia (sp?) and Gregory (sp?) Redding.

Judge Kennedy states they are going to move along to the the next trial date of April 16th. Hopefully all (the issues) will be completed and they realistically can pick a trial date.

Judge Kennedy asks the parties how long they think the trial will take. DDA Jackson states for the entire case, no more than three weeks, unless the defense case is going to be much larger than he’s aware of. The defense feels the case will take five to six weeks. The defense states their case will take at least two weeks.

Judge Kennedy tells counsel that in her courtroom, you get a full day. In her courtroom they start at 9:00 AM or 9:15 AM and go to 4:15 PM or 4:30 PM every day. She also asks the parties how they feel about pre-screening jurors for time qualifications. She suggests that both sides develop a witness list and this helps in the time it takes during jury selection.

Judge Kennedy orders Park back on April 16th at 8:30 AM.

And that’s it. Out in the hallway, Lisa is kind enough to get for me Ms. Kilmianok’s business card so I can spell her last name correctly. Lisa tells me there wasn’t a preliminary hearing in this case. There was a grand jury proceeding and then a bail hearing. After stopping in the cafeteria, I make my way home via the train. I still don't know if this case will conflict with my coverage of the third Cameron Brown trial, which I've already made a commitment to cover.

TruTv Crime Library Report on Juliana Redding's Murder

Desert Living Today, April 2011 Story



Anonymous said...

Thanks again dear Sprocket for your coverage.

One thing I missed, did Stephanie L. broke into the house or did she use something to unlock the door?

Is there any information of how long this struggle could have taken place?

Is there any information about how Step. Lazarus is now "treated" in jail.

Anonymous said...

You are so appreciated. Your coverage of the Lazarus trial was just excellent. From here on, I will be following anything you follow. The human condition, and the court system, are endlessly fascinating, and you totally get that.

TS said...

Look forward to your notes on the pretrial today! Nice photo of the courthouse to include on your blog!

mcyr said...

Very interested in both cases. Look forward to your blog.
Thx so much for all your hard work on the SL case.
Onward Sprocket :)


Anonymous said...

Will Stephanie Lazarus appears in regular clothing when she returns for sentencing? Just wanted to know! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wherever you go ~ I will follow :) I'm addicted to T&T!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Will Stephanie Lazarus come to court in ordinary clothes or will she be wearing the orange humidifier sentencing? Just doesn't know how it works. Thanks!

Sprocket said...

How will Lazarus appear at sentencing?
It's up to Judge Perry. It's my understanding that the defense first has to ask if Lazarus can appear in civilian clothing.

Spector was able to appear in civilian clothing after being convicted of second degree murder.

Anonymous said...

Aww darn it! I wanted to see Lazarus in her "keep away" ORANGE jail scrubs again!

NancyB said...

Sprocket you wrote: "The case is set at 0-90 today and in one month on April 16th, 2012, it will be at 30 of 90." What does this mean? Thanks in advance for your response.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the coverage. Am I correct to believe that the defendant has a very large war chest to help defend herself? Her representation does not sound like public assistance attorneys, and she is out on bail for a horrific murder.

Big defense $$$$ can make getting to the truth of the matter a lot harder.


Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to go back and read your previous reports on Kelly Soo Park. I've seen your mention of this case in the past but I have never known what it was about. Thank you for including the links to catch us up on the background. It sounds like a good one to follow, especially since our favorite ADA is prosecuting.

Speaking of that, it seems like the DA's office is clearing of great people. I see that the ADA in the Conrad Murray trial is up for judge! He was very impressive, too.


Sprocket said...


Don't hold me to it, but I don't believe Park's current counsel is court appointed.

I know that the money for her "first" counsel had to be frozen (I think the Fed's confiscated it; not positive abut that) because it possibly came from the Dr. she worked for who fled the country when Park was arrested.

Sprocket said...

Nancy B:
I've talked about this before. I believe it has to do with the defendant's waiver of their sixth amendment right to a speedy trial.

Even though the defendant has waived their right, they set a trial clock to "go to trial" within that time frame. So that's a countdown to trial.

That clock can be reset at any time with a defendant's waiver. But the minute the individual asserts their sixth amendment right then they must be brought to trial within the legal time frame.

Sixth Amendment Right

Anonymous said...

if i had a chance, i would ask steve lazarus a simple question...if for some reason his sister had been convicted of killing sherri rasmussen in 1986 and in 2009 they went back and got a dna profile on the bite and it proved the dna did NOT match stephanie lazarus would that be enough to prove she did not kill sherri rasmussen? i think his answer would be a very loud YES...well, one does not get it both ways...the dna along everything else proved her guilt...beyond any doubt...

Anonymous said...

Sprocket - Imiss your daily blogs. Will the defense appeal SL conviction; and if they do what is the time for them to do this? Your work is much appreciated. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Will SL defense team appeal her conviction and if so, how long will it take? Your work is much appreciated and thanks again!

Sprocket said...

Thank you all. I've been busy with real life for the past week, but I am working on two entries.

The first is my detail notes for the hearing in Department 100. I should have that entry up soon. That will also mention the many pretrial hearings on several other cases that are coming up in April.

The second is an entry of impressions about Lazarus that people had who have contacted me. That will take several more weeks for me to finish.

It's my understanding (although I don't have verification for this) that Mark Overland has performed quite a bit of appellate work, so it's not unreasonable to assume he will file an appeal on Lazarus' behalf. The minute I hear anything about it, or a filing is made at the appellate level, I'll let my readers know.

Any other questions?