Jury Inquest in a Haiku Three-Fer

Juror inquest starts.

Each one is to be questioned.

Is there misconduct?

4/17/95

 Who should listen in —

Allred and the defendant?

Juror matter closed.

4/18/95

Who will get to read

Transcripts of the inquiry?

Public’s right to know?

4/19/95

Early in the trial, Judge, Lance Ito said media issues consumed a third of his time. Within a couple of months after opening statements, so much stuff was going on with jurors, I noted in Anatomy of a Trial that “If media issues consumed a third of Ito’s time during the trial, jury problems took up another huge chunk.

“From secret note-taking for book deals to personality clashes, rebellions, illnesses, and psychological disorders, hardly a day went by from the time the jury was sequestered, on January 11, 1995, until it delivered the verdicts nearly nine moths later that Ito didn’t hold a closed session to solve one knotty juror problem or another. Jury issues became so squirrely, Ito wondered if what he called “stealth jurors” had made it onto the panel and were trying to sabotage the case.

“‘Every day there would be three things I’d never seen before in my judicial career,’ he said years after the trial. ‘I consulted with other judges and they hadn’t either.’,” I wrote in the opening paragraphs of the chapter on the jury and juror issues.

The reference to Allred in the 4/18/95 haiku was Gloria Allred, who was representing one or more of the murder victims’ relatives, who frequently surfaced in the wings of the trial. So many people lobbied to sit in on Ito’s interviews with jurors, I can’t even remember of defendant Simpson was one of them.

Please Put Hang Fung to Rest

The jury is back.

Shapiro’s racial remark.

He shouldn’t hang Fung.

4/13/95

Robert Shapiro apologizes for joking about going to a Chinese restaurant called Hang Fung after defense attorney Barry Scheck’s cross examines prosecution witness Dennis Fung — which is a follow to “Scheck Pounds Fung” posted on April 5, 2015 .

Let the Dysfunction Begin

Jurors are fighting.

“She kicked me!” “No I didn’t!”

They sound like lawyers.

4/10/95

By this time, the Simpson jurors had been sequestered for three months. So just how bad could having to live in a luxury hotel have been? Despite many amenities and considerations, the fact was they were essentially locked up. They had been 20-some strangers before they found themselves existing in lockstep with each other, being watched over, herded about and literally spied upon by sheriff’s deputies. They were not allowed normal contact or communication with their own family members, to watch or listen to TV or radio, read newspapers that didn’t have huge holes cut in them (stories related to the case, the defendant and the trial had been cut out), or go shopping, to movies,  or even restaurants except as a group.  Then they had nothing to do day after endless day except endure a marathon of squabbling among supposedly grown-up professionals who were supposed to be proving to them whether on not someone had committed the most heinous crime against what had been two living, loving and loved fellow human beings, but instead sounded like throwbacks themselves to their own “No I didn’t! Yes you did!” childhood days.

Mid-April really wasn’t the beginning of dysfunction among the Simpson jurors as many had already shown signs of the strain by then, but by mid-April it had certainly become serious, despite almost heroic behind-the-scenes efforts of trial judge Lance Ito to ease the strain and make their existence more tolerable.

Like OJ, MJ is News that Never Dies

Just like O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson is a news evergreen, meaning that he is always good for a headline, even now, five years after Jackson died.

Today’s headline actually first became big news more than 20 years ago. The case was Chandler vs. Jackson and got no further than a pretrial hearing in 1993 in Santa Monica, California. By comparison, the media swarm that smothered the courthouse and surroundings made the Rodney King-beating trial the year before look like a moonscape. The lawyers representing plaintiff, a minor male, and defendant Michael Jackson, settled without going to trial. The $40 million settlement, according to the quacking ducks of the day, was hush money. So here’s today’s headline:

Report: Michael Jackson paid $200M in hush money to alleged molestation victims

According to this story, Chandler was one of 20 Jackson accusers “hush money” went to.

Here’s the story. You can read it for yourself.

I, BTW, had no opinion, in fact, no interest in Jackson or who he did what with, but I sure was glad that 1993 civil lawsuit was settled, hush money or no. After surviving the Rodney King-beating trial, there was no way I wanted to drown in the deluge of media that would be sure to swamp Santa Monica to cover a Michael Jackson-molestation trial.

Little did I know that a marathon of a notorious trial that became known as The People vs. Orenthal James Simpson was waiting in the wings.

If You Gotta Write About It, Get It Right

Maybe I’m just being picky, but it seems to me that if someone feels strongly enough — or is being paid — to publish a piece about something millions of people know about and that had as much, if not more, media coverage as just about any event in the past century, the writer would at least get the year of that event right. Yet, Jim Kearney in his “Coming Distractions” post published today on  website wrote:

“I only watched occasional moments of the initial live television trial in the summer and early fall of 1996.”

The last day of trial of The People vs. O. J. Simpson was Oct. 3, 1995, not 1996.

At first, I thought Kearney might have been referring to the Simpson civil trial of the lawsuit the parents of murder victim Ronald Goldman sued Simpson for the wrongful death of their son. That trial began in October 1996 and ended in February 1997 with a $33 million judgment against Simpson.

But, perhaps Kearney just made a typo, hitting the 6 key instead of the 5 key, erroneously making the year 1996, instead of the correct year, 1995. While I’m willing to allow that might be the case, it’s hard to not get all prickly after seeing so many ridiculous things reported as fact, not just during the trial, but during nearly 20 years that have elapsed since then. That includes the almost character-assassinating hearsay Jeffrey Toobin reported in his book that is now the basis for a 10-part TV series on American Horror Story.

Close Quarters Contaminate

Three jurors fall ill.

The flu has taken a toll.

Proceedings halted.

4/6/95

Having been sequestered for more than three months at this point,  Simpson jurors were beginning to feel–and show–the strain. Two had been excused at this point (and both had books out before a year had elapsed). Of the jurors down with the flu in early April, one was sick enough be be hospitalized and on IV fluids, according to my notes. During their absence, yet another juror got kicked off the case. And this was just the beginning of the juror troubles.

Senator Fakes an Accent

He mimed an accent.

D’Amato thinks he’s so cute.

Whose English is best?

4/5/95

The trouble for U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-NY, started with radio shock jock Don Imus.  It was during an argument about whether or not the Whitewater hearings, which involved  investigations into the real estate investments of then-President Bill and his wife, Hillary Clinton, should be delayed until after the Simpson trial was over. During the argument D’Amato feigned an exaggerated Japanese accent and referred to the Simpson trial judge as “little Judge Ito.” Not only was it disrespectful of another public official and demeaning in every respect, it was a totally inaccurate representation. Lance Ito is American, born in America in the state of California.

After a couple of days of criticism, D’Amato issued a weak tea apology before he apologized more sincerely. Here’s how I described it in Anatomy of a Trial:

“Although he spoke to a early empty [Senate] chamber, it still made the news.

“‘In barely audible tones, a chastened and visibly nervous Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato delivered a rare apology on the Senate floor today, calling his heavily accented remarks about the Japanese-American judge in the O.J. Simpson case “totally wrong and inappropriate,”‘ The New York Times reported.”