Wrong! Wrong! And What Are They Waiting For?

An online news outlet reported in a story, A New California Law Brings Hope of An Appeal For Lyle And Erik Menendez, that the Menendez brothers 1993 trial was “first trial that was televised and America couldn’t get enough.”

That is the first “wrong” in this piece. Broadcast and still photography covered Estes v. Texas in 1965. The first state in the country to enact official court rules allowing camera coverage in its state courts, which led to camera coverage of Chandler v. Florida.

Perhaps the article writer meant that Menendez brothers trial was the first trial in California to be televised, but that would have been wrong, too. The 1992 Rodney King beating trial was not only televised (I sat in that courtroom every day, just as I did both of the later Menendez brothers trials), TV viewers couldn’t get enough of that either. Neither could they get enough if the riots in L.A. that erupted after the four police officers were acquitted, nor of the trial of men who beat trucker Reginald Denny who just happened to be driving through a riot area.

The writer also got several details of the Menendez murders wrong.

What begs the question for me, though, was that even though California passed a law several years ago that might open the door for a Menendez brothers appeal, they have yet to do so. Why not? Especially since the clock is ticking toward a deadline.

A Sad Anniversary

Twenty-one years ago today a jury in Los Angeles that had been sequestered for nearly 9 months and was itching to go home, declared O.J. Simpson not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Brown’s friend Ron Goldman on a June night in 1994.

I have spent a good deal of my professional and personal time since then trying to correct many misperceptions that have abounded ever since the Simpson case entered the court.

Now, as the 21st anniversary date comes and goes after a year of TV blockbusters rewarded with Emmy nominations and awards, which not only perpetuated many of those misperceptions but created new ones, such as Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark’s accusation that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, who presided over Simpson’s trial, is sexist and misogynistic, my one small voice is getting smaller and being drowned out in all the renewed ballyhoo.

I saw in the news some time ago that Clark was making a public appearance in Milwaukee this month. I rehearsed daily what I would say during her q&A session of that appearance. But I’ve decided to save my time, money and breath. Trying to say anything would be futile and upset me more than anyone else, and certainly not Clark.

Even though I feel a bit of closure with this decision, I will continue to promote and sell Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson, post comments and observations on this blog, and post status updates on my “Anatomy of a Trial by Jerrianne Hayslett” Facebook page.

My experience with that trial, the Los Angeles courts, the media that covered them and all the characters who were part of them, will always be part of me.

“Anatomy of a Trial” a Bargain $10.99!

20 more copies of my book, “Anatomy of a Trial, Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson”, are now available on Amazon for the bargain price of $10.99. Read it and find out what American Crime Story’s “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” got wrong. https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0826218229/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new

Toobin’s Simpson Account No Exemplar of Accuracy

Terry Gross is interviewing Jeffrey Toobin on her “Fresh Air” program today about his new book American Heiress, which is about Hearst empire heiress Patty Hearst. Toobin says he was 13 when Patty Hearst was kidnapped at age 19 and a UC Berkeley sophomore by a violent rogue group self-named the Symbionese Liberation Army.

It is supremely irritating to hear Gross identify Toobin as author of the “definitive book about the O.J. Simpson trial.” That book is so filled with errors and character assassination, some based on hearsay which I point out in Anatomy of a Trial, I can only hope that Toobin did a more accurate job with his new tome.

On Your Mark, Get Ready, Wrong!

When I read the news in The Hollywood Reporter that ‘Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Murders’ Ordered to Series at NBCI could only hope the series will be more accurate than this promo.

Here is the misinfo that is probably the most blatant:

“The siblings, who were 21 and 18 years old, respectively, at the time of the murders, were tried separately but eventually found guilty in a third trial after no verdicts were rendered in the first two because of hung juries.”

There were only two Menendez brothers’ trials. The first began on July 20, 1993, and ended on January 28, 1994. Although it was a single trial, two juries were seated, one to determine the guilt or innocence of older brother Lyle, the other to judge the guilt or innocence of younger brother Erik. Both juries hung and the trial judge, Stanley Weisberg, declared a mistrial in each case. The second trial began on August 23, 1995, and ended on March 20, 1996. That trial had a single jury which found both brothers guilty and Weisberg sentenced them both to life in prison without possibility of parole.

I attended, handled media issues and interfaced with the judge on both trials.

Less offending but confusing is the sentence in The Hollywood Reporter theis “Like the Simpson trial, the Menendez brothers trial became an early hit for then-burgeoning cable channel CourtTV.” The reason it’s confusing is because it doesn’t specify which Menendez trial “became an early hit for … CourtTV.” What does that matter? CourtTV televised only the first Menendez trial. Weisberg didn’t allow a TV camera in the courtroom during the second one. Because of that ban broadcasters debated how extensively to cover it. The second Menendez trial definitely wasn’t key to CourtTV making its bones.

 

Lange Exemplifies Cops’ Incompetence?

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of ESPN’s multi-part documentary is that Simpson fatigue hasn’t shut me down. Or maybe it has, partially. I am watching the production, albeit slowly. Parts 4 and 5 to go. I’ve recorded them, but haven’t gotten around to viewing them yet.

I’ve found what I have seen well done and revealing, so far as some L.A. police officers’ relationship with Simpson and their fan-club-esque groupie-ism is concerned.

Nowhere is that more unwittingly exemplified than Detective Tom Lange’s narrative at the opening of Part 3 in which he describes the crime scene when police first arrived and their course of action.

In describing Nicole Brown whose body was lying just outside the front door of her Bundy Drive home in Brentwood, Lange referred to her as O.J. Simpson’s “estranged wife” and said police had to notify her next of kin, “who was O.J. Simpson.”

Lange was wrong on both counts. Nicole Brown was not Simpson’s estranged wife. She and Simpson had been divorced for two years. As a result, he was not her next of kin. Her parents were.

But if the cops had their facts straight, they would have had no excuse to contact Simpson. They would have notified her actual next of kin and would have had no reason to go to Simpson’s house on Rockingham Drive and tell him his former wife had been murdered–unless they wanted to check him out as a possible suspect, which they obviously didn’t.

If that is any indication, then Simpson’s defense attorneys’ claims of police incompetence appear to have some substance.

Beyond Larry King’s Freudian Slip

The anecdote in the opening paragraph of The Atlantic’s June 16, 2016, O.J.: Made in America Is Vital Storytelling review…

Buried in the fourth part of O.J.: Made in America, ESPN Films’s masterful eight-hour documentary about the O.J. Simpson murder case, is a telling little Freudian slip from the then-CNN host Larry King, whose network had turned news coverage of the trial into an unprecedented 24/7 marathon. He had just met with Lance Ito, the presiding judge in the trial, and King was asked by a news crew if he wanted Ito to appear on Larry King Live. “Sure, we’d love to have him after the show is over. After the trial is over,” he said, catching himself. “It is like a show.”

…might have happened.  I don’t know. But I do know it doesn’t tell the whole story. Whoever the news crew was apparently didn’t know that King had asked for Ito to be on his show before King met him during the trial. The saga of how that meeting came about is documented on pages 65-67 of my book Anatomy of a Trial, for which I’m pretty much to blame.

Learning that King planned to be in L.A. and wanted to attend the trial, I suggested to Ito that he might meet with him to thank him. King’s was the only news broadcast or talk show that granted Ito’s request to delay by one day interviewing Faye Resnick about her rush-to-print tell-all “diary”. King also read the entire statement from Ito on a show he had asked the judge to appear on with members of the media who were unhappy about his courtroom rules and restrictions.

The rest of The Atlantic review about the ESPN documentary seemed OK to me, but then I’ve only gotten through Part 3, so far. So this blog post is based on second-hand information, since I haven’t watched Part 4, which contains the scene described in The Atlantic review’s opening ‘graph.