Tag Archives: haiku

No Haiku. No Cameras, Either

I didn’t write a haiku twenty years ago today. Absent that, I’ll write about something that happened yesterday — the sentencing of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We know it happened because news reporters who were there told us it happened. But, even though people across the country saw television footage of the explosions of the bombs Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan left on the sidewalk at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, the hunt for them and the arrest of Dzhokhar (Tsarnaev was killed), the only people who could watch his trial were those inside the courtroom. Neither could the vast majority of the public witness his sentencing, which included him speak. It was the first time he had spoken publicly.

While reports of his statement said he had apologized to surviving victims and relatives of victims who didn’t survive, at least one survivor who was in the courtroom, said she didn’t buy it. She is quoted saying he lacked sincerity and wasn’t remorseful.

But we’ll never know. One report said he shed tears. A survivor said she could tell by Dzhokhar’s eyes that he didn’t mean it.

The point is, doesn’t it seem only right that the conclusion of a terrible tragedy that held the country in its grip and that so many people had been able to follow on their television sets should have been able to see and hear the surviving perpetrator of the horrible crime that killed three people and injured 264 others speak about his feelings when he was sentenced to death? Shouldn’t we have been able to determine for ourselves whether or not we thought he was really remorseful?

This is a prime example of why the public deserves to have camera coverage of significant trials.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s wishing all of my Anatomy of a Trial blog, Facebook page and Twitter followers a wonderful, feast-filled Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for you all!

The Simpson haiku went on hiatus for a few days this time last year, apparently because of the Thanksgiving break. The next one was on Nov. 28, 1994. I’ll post it tomorrow.


A Blooming Courtroom

Where do they come from?

Some are secret, some are not.

Bowers of flowers.


The many floral arrangements sent to Judge Ito’s courtroom cause great speculation. I either wasn’t curious enough to see who they were from to ask or check for tags on them, or chose not to know so I could truthfully tell inquiring reporters and producers I didn’t know, or just plain didn’t have time to be bothered, I don’t know. But the fact is, I didn’t know.

What I did know nearly a year later was who sent a huge bouquet to me at my court office and how shocked I was. I’m still not over it. I wrote a haiku about it on that day, September 18, 1995. Watch this space for it on September 18, 2015.

Just Between Us — and “60 Minutes”

A Mike Wallace call.

Ito-off-the-record talk?

That will not happen.

This haiku was born from an extraordinary conversation I had with Ty Kim, who called on behalf of “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace. I gave it a mention on page 25 in Anatomy of a Trial.  Here, from my notes, is more about Kim’s phone call and my conversation with then-Criminal Courts Supervising Judge Cecil Mills.

Kim: We haven’t done a piece on the Simpson case and we’re looking for an intelligent way to put some of this [media] coverage into perspective.

I sought Mills’ counsel on “how to proceed,” is what I wrote in my notes.

Me to Mills:  They say there would be no specific deadline for when the piece would run; they would air it when things appear to spin out of control and the standard of reporting is questionable.

They are offering a venue to speak to their audience for 45 minutes. It would not be about the substance of the case or what would affect the outcome (of the trial), but on how the fair-trial process might be affected by coverage of this case. They said:

“Someone has to put these inaccurate reports into some kind of perspective. If we can come up with a way, would you be open to any kind of dialogue? Over the years, extraordinary interviews have been negotiated. Ii’s our opinion that it would be of some value to inform the public and to discuss the saturation of coverage.

“I know we’ve been shocked by it since the case began. “60 Minutes” can be the voice of reason.”

Mills deferred to me, I wrote in my notes, but he wanted to know if our conversations with Kim and/or Wallace or anyone else at “60 Minutes” would be off the record, and if doing something with “60 Minutes” would serve some purpose … that it would offer a venue to make a statement about coverage that goes beyond the courtroom and how it affects the fair-trial process.  Would it discuss the way journalists cover stories? Could we (Mills, Ito and me) talk with Wallace to change the flow of reportage in the future?

Kim had said to me: Mike’s concern is for a fair trial. He’s looking for a window of opportunity to discuss in an academic way the perspective on how coverage has spun out of control. Judge Mills and Judge Ito have a unique viewpoint that would help the public understand how far things have spun out of control. We want to be a platform for perspective while other chase for scraps with shock value. We would move forward in as thoughtful a way as possible on how affected fair trials are, how coverage of this case could affect how trials are conducted across the U.S.  How that would unfold as the Simpson case was handled and address the flow of information that escapes before the trial begins.

Oh, how I wanted to believe! If the interview went as Kim outlined or described, it would be such a boon to clear up all the misreporting, misinformation, distortion and misperception. But my gut won out. I’d seen way too many “60 Minutes” and other “just between us” interviews [can you say Connie Chung and Kathleen Gingrich?]

Here’s how that went down:

“In a taped interview with Mrs. Kathleen Gingrich, 68, Chung asked Mrs. Gingrich what her boy, Newt, has said about President Clinton.

The question led to the following exchange:

Mom Gingrich: “Nothing, and I can’t tell you what he said about Hillary.”

Chung: “You can’t.”

Mom Gingrich: “I can’t.”

Chung: “Why don’t you just whisper it to me, just between you and me.”

Mom Gingrich: (In a loud whisper) “She’s a bitch. About the only thing he ever said about her.”  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-01-05/news/9501050148_1_men-and-shaper-mom-gingrich-newtie

And Chung worked for the same TV network that broadcast “60 Minutes.”

The risk was just too great.


But it turns out that Ms. Chung was fibbing when she said “just between you and me.”

The Many Faces of Hardship

The trial has started.

Hardship selection is first.

(SNL debut.)


Although none of the three mentions in Anatomy of a Trial specify the first time the Simpson case and/or anything related to it was spoofed on Saturday Night Live, my guess is the first or numerous skits and spoof on the topic aired in its Sept. 24 show. A couple of days later, I wrote this haiku when the first phase of jury selection began.

Simpson Two-Week Breather Haiku

Judge leaves for two weeks.

A vacation well deserved.

Relax, bank the rest.

Needless to say, I breathed a sigh of relief — not because I would get a break from coming up with a daily haiku, those came so easily, writing them was far from a chore. The relief I felt was from the daily demands and stress of trying to stay ahead of the Simpson tsunami and spend much needed time and attention on the rest of my job.

How Do They Find Out?

Confidential information was constantly being leaked to the media. My haiku of this day 20 years ago reflects the trial judge’s frustration.

This case is a sieve.

“File all motions under seal.”

Will that stop the leaks?


What Was Fox’s Rush?

Here’s my People vs. Simpson haiku of 20 years ago today:

“The Simpson Story.”

A rush into production.

The jury’s not picked.


What was going on here is, Fox TV wanted to air its movie of the crime before a jury has even been selected.

Should Autopsy Photos Be Shown?

The press wants to see

Victims’ bodies photographs.

Public’s right to know!


This People v. Simpson haiku I wrote 20 years ago today reflected an especially touchy situation, so far as the trial judge, Lance Ito, was concerned. As mentioned on page 88 of Anatomy of a Trial, Ito was determined, out of consideration for the families of murder victims Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, that the autopsy photographs not be made public. Members of the media, however, insisted that they had a right to see them, since they were going to be shown to the jurors. To satisfy their demands, Ito arranged for the photographs be set up on easel-type stands in an adjacent courtroom and allow members of the media file past them, but not take any pictures of them.

He probably thought he had made a good decision considering the rather cavalier manner in which at least one reporter behaved during the trial when the photographers were passed to the jurors, which I describe on page 53 of Anatomy. She snacked on Skittles, which was not only grossly insensitive, but violated courtroom rules of not bringing food into the courtroom.


Out-of-Simpson-Court Churnings

No matters were heard in open court today or for the next few days, but issues churned furiously behind the scenes.

An Aug. 5, 1994, Los Angeles Times story ruminated on the acting California Secretary of State Tony Miller’s worry that O. J. Simpson’s trial might derail the state’s Nov. 8 election that included a “down-to-the-wire contest” between incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson and challenger Kathleen Brown.

“If he [Simpson] is on the stand on the eighth of November, we simply shout the process down,” the Times quotes Miller as saying. “I’m not even going to show up.”

Miller was commenting on “…an era of declining voter participation–and a populace transfixed by the Simpson trial unfolding on television–could this truly be the year when they hold an election and no one comes?” the Times story said.

My Aug. 8 haiku reveals what Miller decided to do about that. Hope you tune in in a few days to see what that was.