Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lois Goodman Case: Pretrial Hearing 5

UPDATED 10/3 7:00 PM additional notes and spelling corrections 

October 3rd, 2012
I apologize that my notes on this pretrial hearing are so late.  Responsibilities to Mr. Sprocket's business have kept me from writing in a more timely manner.  Note: This entry isn't completely finished. Sprocket.

When I get to the front steps of the Van Nuys Courthouse, I think I have plenty of time to get through security but I've forgotten about the long lines.  There is only one line for the public and press.  With moments to spare before 8:30 AM, I clear security.  I ask the first security office I see which floor Dept. 122 is on.  "Ninth floor," he replies.  I get to the elevators and quickly as I can. 

When I get up on the ninth floor, there is a large group of press and supporters for Goodman, as many as I've seen in the last hearings.

Local ABC 7's Miriam Hernandez looks lovely in a cream sweater top and a stripe skirt.  A younger, nicely dressed woman is with her.  I notice they are both wearing their gold number "7" circle pins on their tops. I note that Miriam has a lovely, tiny stranded gold necklace with spaced gold beads.

I spot Lois Goodman.  she's wearing a brown and cream horizontal striped top.  In my notes I have 'black pants' but I'm thinking that they might have been brown to match her top.

When Triessl arrives on the 9th floor, she openly hugs her client and they walk off together to chat.   There is a salt and pepper haired man with Triessl, that appears to be part of the legal team.

Another Ch 7 reporter joins our group and Miriam introduces her to me. Her name is Lisa and she's an investigative producer who is working on a story involving James Cohan, who also has an appearance today in Dept 122.  Lisa tells me a bit about Cohan, a serial plaintiff in federal court, who claims to be disabled.  However, Channel 7 filmed Cohan easily hiking up a hill.  (If I'm reading my notes correctly), Cohan is in court today on a probation violation, accused of collecting guns and ammunition.  Lisa also mentions another serial plaintiff, Alfredo Garcia.

When Dept 122 opens, it's tiny. There are three sections separated by two aisles. There are barely forty seats total.  I'm betting most of Goodman's support group will not get a seat.  The press sits on the far left of the room along with some witnesses.  I grab a seat in the left front row, right in front of the jury box.  The two center rows are reserved for counsel and the far right of the courtroom is reserved for defendants.  There are quite a few LAPD uniformed officers in the jury box as well as a few suited detectives.

Goodman's supporters are arguing with the bailiffs in the room about seating.  They are complaining that some of the seating is blocked off with yellow tape.  A bailiff is telling those who don't have seats that they can't stand.  They must wait outside.  There are at least 20 plus supporters for Goodman in this tiny courtroom.

I don't have my new glasses yet, so I ask the reporter sitting to my right if she can read the plaque on the judge's bench.  Dept. 122's judge is Jessica P. Silvers.  Judge Silvers is a tall, slender woman.  She doesn't have her robe on yet.  She's wearing a sleek dark blue sleeveless dress. (It's not in my notes, but If I'm recalling correctly, shes wearing a short strand of pearls.) I spot DDA Sharon Ransom. I don't see Lisa Tanner (she doesn't show up today).  Ransom and the defense counsel go back into Judge Silver's chambers.  It's 9:05 AM, and I'm betting it will take some time for this hearing to get underway.  With all the officers in the jury box, there must be many more cases being heard this morning.

Judge Silvers comes back out from her chambers, tidies up her bench and then goes back into chambers.  Either that or she was specifically looking for something.  A reporter behind me believes they are waiting for a detective.

Judge Silvers is back on the bench and a defendant is brought out for another case.  Judge Silvers has everyone stand and face the US flag.  It's not in my notes but I believe the pledge of allegiance is read.  Counsel for this current case chat with Judge Silvers at the bench.

Goodman's supporters get up to leave and give their seats to others who are waiting in the hallway.

It's a busy, bustling courtroom.  There's a lot going on.  Counsel come and go, checking in with Judge Silver's clerk.  The jury box is still packed with detectives and LAPD officers.  I observe some of the officers waiting for their cases to be called.  One officer is holding a file and looking bored.  Two officers are engrossed in their smart phones.  One is nervously rocking the chair back and forth.

At 9:50 AM I step outside to return Mr. Sprocket's call, who is demanding to know why I'm not answering my phone.  I patiently explain to him that I can't answer the phone inside the courtroom.  In the hallway, I notice DDA Ransom and Triessl are sitting on a bench in deep conversation.

Back inside the courtroom, there are other attorneys that appear to be joking in the well.  Judge Silvers is not on the bench.  This courtroom reminds me a bit of Dept. 30 in downtown.  A female prosecutor handling other cases releases some of the officers in the jury box.  She then asks a few other officers what cases they are here on.

One of the reporters identifies for me who the salt and pepper hair man is with the defense team.  His name is Scott Ross (no relation) and he's the investigator for the defense.

Several officers have no left the jury box.  One of the reporters asks who the third attorney is working on Goodman's case.  It's Kelly Gerner.  I take my earlier opinion back.  The bustle in this courtroom is worse than Dept. 30.  It's obvious the court calendar today is full.  It's now 10:05 AM.  A few moments later, the bailiff finally lets the rest of Goodman's supporters inside the courtroom.

10:07 AM DDA Ransom and the rest of the defense team (Alison Triessl, Kelly Gerner Robert Sheahen) is now all back in the well, sitting in the row of chairs against the "bar."

10:15 AM Judge Silvers calls the Goodman case.  I believe it's the defense who states they are asking for another 30 days before setting a 'set' date.  They are still asking for disclosure from the prosecution.  The defense has received voluminous amounts of discovery, They (have?) received the murder book.  They are asking for more discovery.  They are half way through what they've received so far.  They are working the with prosecution on getting all the discovery.

Something is said about detectives providing (other? discovery?) within the next couple of days.  The next pretrial hearing date asked for is November 8th, and on that date, they will set a preliminary hearing date.

The defense states they are focusing on one area of discovery, the original notes of the LAPD who determined that Alan Goodman's death was an accident.  They are also asking for the notes of any SID (LAPD Science Investigation Division) people on the scene in April or May.  The defense has not yet been provided those original notes in the initial discovery.

Judge Silver asks the defense if they are requesting the "original" notes of the detectives or a copy of the original notes.  The defense clarifies they are asking for a copy of the original notes.

The next hearing date is set for November 8th.  Triessl then tells Judge Silvers there are two additional small matters.  Sheahen then gets up to speak to Judge Silvers about the DA requesting a DNA sample.  Sheahen states the defense did seek a writ of mandate in Dept. 100 that was denied without a hearing.  They want to make it perfectly clear that the DNA will be submitted today.  (It's not in my notes but I have a memory that Sheahen mentioned the defense did appeal that ruling to a higher court.)

Triessl then asks the court again for their client to be able to travel to her offices.  She mentions that there is a lot of discovery in this case.  Seems like a waste of the courts time to meet every time to get a waiver. The prior ruling in Dept. 100, the judge stated Triessl had to go to Goodman's home to prepare her defense.  Goodman is on home confinement and ankle monitoring.  She is only allowed to leave her home for religious services and doctor appointments.

Judge Silvers addresses the people, stating there is no danger to the public at this time, and seems to be a reasonable request.  The people have no objection.  So Goodman's ability to leave her home increased a bit.  She can now go to her attorney's office.

And that's it. The press and Goodman supporters slowly file out of Dept. 122 and into the hallway.  While I'm standing around outside Dept. 122, waiting to see if the defense will speak to the press in the plaza,  A very petite older woman approaches me with curly gray hair.  She's asks me, "Are you the T&T lady?"  I reply, "Yes."  She then makes a few statements in defense of Goodman.  "What will give her back her name and economic stability?"  I ask her if she is a longtime friend of Goodman's.  "Yes," she replies, and then adds, "And Alan's." 

I hear that the defense is going to speak to the press so I head down the hallway to the elevator bay.  As I'm standing there, I notice a familiar face that also recognizes me about 12 feet away.  It's one of the Van Nuys Cowboys, Homicide Detective Pete Barba.  Barba was one of the detectives that solved the murder of Sherri Rasmussen and led to the conviction of Stephanie Lazarus.  I smile and head towards him.  He asks me what I'm here for and I tell him the Goodman case. We ride down the elevator a few floors together until Pete gets off on sixth.  It appears he's got another case to check in on. In my surprise at seeing Pete, I totally forgot to personally thank him for the surprise present the Cowboys gave me back in June.

Out on the plaza, the defense is setting up to speak to the press.  Many of Goodman's supporters stood with Lois and her counsel to face the cameras.
More to come...


Out on the plaza, I took this photo with my old phone. I apologize for the poor quality of the photo.

Goodman's counsel speaks to the press with supporters standing by.

I believe it's Alison Triessl who speaks first.  "Mrs. Goodman has so many loving friends.  Some drove as far as Reno to be here today."  Triessl tells the press Goodman's friends know that Lois did not do what she is being accused of.  I believe it's Robert Sheahen who talks about the provided DNA sample, and that they "kicked up" their appeal "to a higher court."

Goodman's defense talks to the press about asking for the detectives original notes. The defense also said, "We hope the public and the media will stay with this case. "This woman did not do this," Triessl continued.

Many of Goodman's friends stood up with Lois and appeared on camera in support.

I stood back and watched the mainstream media do it's job.  Miriam asked Sheahen about several of the prosecution's allegations. She also asked him about the prosecutions allegations that there were several areas, pools of blood, and that someone injured would have (in passing the phone) would have called for help. Sheahen deflected her questions.  I believe Miriam asked him about the autopsy report, and Sheahen responded, "We will have plenty to say about the autopsy."

The defense still talks to the press.  "We're asking for notes.... first draft (notes) .... the first impressions at the scene.... The next set of notes... from subsequent search.  (snip) We think the (criminalists?) notes will show a lot of things in our favor."

Sheahen then addresses the autopsy.  "Why is the LAPD in with the medical examiner?  ....telling the medical examiner..."

(I don't have a clue what Sheahen is implying here.  It's my understanding that detectives observe autopsies of their cases all the time, and there's nothing unusual about that. Sprocket.)

Then in speaking directly to Miriam and the Associated Press reporter, I hear Sheanen say, "I appreciate you guys.... because you take the time to get it right.... some of your colleagues (don't) .... I really mean that." (I agree that Miriam is an excellent reporter. Sprocket)

And that was it. I made my way home.  Next pretrial hearing is November 8th in Dept. 122 at 8:30 AM.


Sandy said...

Reading your court reporting is like getting chapters in a novel... I like the details of what people are wearing, the jewelry, the shoes... it colors the event in a way that simply providing 'just the facts' can never do... so much appreciated!