The ‘Oddest Day’ in Trial of Odd Days

As the post, “Prelude to ‘Oddest Day’ in Trial of Odd Days,” of a few days ago alluded, here is my account of the day Simpson neighbor’s housekeeper appeared in court.

First, though, a correction. In my previous blog post, I identified Rosa Lopez as being from Colombia. She wasn’t. She was from El Salvador. I should have looked at my notes from back then. So, here are my notes from that day, none of which made it into my book:

{It was the oddest day of a trial full of odd days. It was Rosa Lopez day at the O.J. Simpson trial. It was a day that was to have been a half day of a conditional examination and it turned into a more than full day of examination and cross examination to see if she was going to be a videotaped witness. The answer at 5:10 p.m. was yes — and that night because she was going to leave for El Salvador the next day. But a flash of inspiration prompted (Judge Lance) Ito to call for the jury. It was 5:30 p.m.

“What do you suppose they are doing about now?” he asked. I was alone with him in chambers.

“Probably just going to dinner,” I said.

“Go ask (courtroom bailiff Sheriff’s Deputy) Guy Magnera to call and see how soon they can be gotten over here.”

They (jurors) filed in at 6 — very dressed down compared to their usual dapper selves — a look may of them had assumed after having been selected as jurors. But when Ito took the bench, Marcia Clark wailed about her child care problems and Ito ended up holding Rosa Lopez as a material witness to testify (out of town as a defense witness) on Monday.

“Do you think it was a ploy?” Law Clerk Michelle Carswell asked (of Marcia Clark’s plea) Ito in chambers after he’d recessed for the day.

“Sure,” he said. “They (prosecutors) needed more time to prepare for cross examination. But if they had used their heads, they would have realized I would have gone on for a couple of hours, then called it a night. I’ve bee working all day. I’m tired and want to go home. So I would have recessed after a couple of hours util Monday and made a finding that she’s (Rosa Lopez) a material witness and held her on a bod or put her in jail.”

He pointed out that hearing a couple of hours of the defense examination before recessing for the weekend would have give the prosecution an idea of what to prepare for.

What Rosa Lopez did say in court was that she had no place to stay, that she had lost her job because of the (Simpson) case and was planning to leave L.A. for El Salvador. Her and Cochran’s sob story prompted dozens of phone calls to our office (public information office) — and, I’m sure to other court phones as wells as the defense — and probably D.A. offices — offering jobs, places to stay, including  the offer of an unused mobile home and an offer of $1,000. We referred may of the calls to Lopez’s attorney, Carl Jones.

I related that to Ito just before court convened for the late afternoon session. In chambers was a pre-law intern. After court recessed, an L.A. Times reporter repeated to me almost verbatim what I’d told Jones. I asked her where she heard that. She said she wasn’t telling. I said, “If you aren’t telling, I’m not telling,” and I walked away.}

Although it might seem strange that I didn’t take notes about Lopez’s testimony, but that is so indicative of how I focused o my job — and that wasn’t worrying about the trial, except for how the media coverage of it and media behavior affected the court. So, here’s the link to an L.A. Times story about her testimony. http://articles.latimes.com/1995-02-28/news/mn-37009_1_rosa-lopez with this headline: Housekeeper Tells of Seeing Simpson’s Car : Trial: Rosa Lopez testifies on tape without jury present after prosecutors complain. Defense reveals statement it took from her in July.

 

The Fuhrman Saga Begins

Who can impeach him?

Kathleen Bell sent a letter.

Mark Fuhrman issue.

2/24/95

Former real estate saleswoman Kathleen Bell sent Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran a letter about an encounter she had with L.A.P.D. homicide detective years before Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered in which Fuhrman made what she believed were racist remarks. Asked on the witness stand during the trial if he had ever used the derogative term for Americans of African descent, Fuhrman, who found significant evidence at the Simpson murder scene, said ‘no.’ Subsequently, a North Carolina resident provided recorded tapes of Fuhrman doing just that. He was subsequently charged with perjury, to which he pled no contest the following year. The revelation of, not only using pejorative language and making comments about his policing behavior concerning blacks, but lying about it cast doubt on his veracity as a trial witness and severely damaged the prosecution’s case.

Prelude to “Oddest Day” in Trial of Odd Days

Rosa’s going to leave.

Can she testify right now?

Conditionally.

2/21/95

Simpson neighbor’s maid, Rosa Lopez, who was from Colombia, was to be a defense witness, but had plans to leave the country before the defense put on it’s case.  Ito ruled that she could testify on videotape and he would rule on its admissibility later.

Diane was Celeb of the Day

Stars shine on the court.

All ask for private meetings.

Diane Sawyer’s here.

2/16/95

I got a little behind, thanks to a really busy Valentine’s Day weekend. I am catching up, though.

There’s not much mention in Anatomy of a Trial about Diane Sawyer’s courtroom visit. It did, however, take her more than one visit to get to see Judge Ito. He did agree to see visitors, but told me to bring them in just before he had to go back out on the bench. Sawyer’s visit must have been pretty brief. My notes for that day say, “The celebrity star du jour  was Diane Sawyer. She wanted to meet Ito, which I arranged. (The bad part was having to parade through the courtroom, which was filled with press and public.) Ito said what I’ve thought so often during this trial: ‘ It’s strange to meet people you’ve only seen on TV.’ She said she was surprised to see that he had legs. It was a short amicable meeting. She, of course, tried to convince him to agree to do an interview, which he, of course, declined.”

Ah, the good ol’ days in the fast lane.

Maybe Ito Should Have Been More Direct

Time gets marked a lot.

By more pieces, great and small.

Those hourglasses.

2/15/95

Ito placed hourglasses from his collection he kept in his chambers on his bench as a hint to the lawyers to move things along. He also bought large school-type clocks on all four walls of the courtroom for their benefit. I must admit, I sat in the back of the courtroom wishing he would tell them out loud, only the words in my head were, “sit down and shut up”.

Annie was so Special

Her pictures are fine.

How about some in the courtroom?

Annie Leibovitz

2/14/95

So the New York-based celebrity photo-diva gets permission to be in the courtroom with her camera for a short while one day with a same conditions and restrictions other photographers had to follow. Most notably, she had to share her photos with news organizations of who had cameras in the courtroom and she couldn’t take any pictures when court wasn’t in session. She violated both, but apparently didn’t care, since it was a one-time gig for her, so she had no incentive to comply.

The other photogs were ticked and so was I.

Our Mutual Appreciation Society

Below is a comment photojournalist Haywood Galbreath posted on my “Anatomy of a Trial” by Jerrianne Hayslett Facebook page in response to the link I posted to yesterday’s “Anatomy of a Trial blog post.

Haywood first crossed my path during the Reginald Denny-beating trial (referred to by some in the media and the court as son of Rodney King-beating trial) two years after I became the Los Angeles Superior Court’s first ever director of public information. Haywood was nothing like I had ever encountered.

I mention that encounter in Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson, and describe how he became the only photographer to have daily courtroom access to photograph the O.J. Simpson  trial, how he got to be the only pool photographer on the Simpson jury crime-scene visit, as well as some of the challenges and confrontations we weathered.

“I would like to thank Ms. Jerrianne Hayslett, for acknowledging me in her “Anatomy of a Trial blog”. She may not have completely understood my passion and what was behind my passion. She was however understanding and became an ally. When all is said and done no matter what the situation.

“If the people in your life do not completely understand but are understanding. Then you have been blessed more than you understand or know until time does what time does. That is brings about wisdom and understanding in you! I will be eternally grateful to her and what she did for the Black Press of America and me.”

Haywood taught me a lot, some of which took a while to understand and appreciate. I thank him for that and for his generous comment above. Haywood remains a friend and continues his successful career in photojournalism and other media.