Tag Archives: Jeffrey Toobin

Say It Isn’t So, Cuba!

That was my first reaction when I saw this story. Then, when I read that this American Horror Show “would focus on the O.J. Simpson trial as told in the book ‘The Run of His Life: The People V. O.J. Simpson‘ by Jeffrey Toobin” I could only hope that it won’t include the misinformation in that book about an event that Toobin reported as if he were present, when he wasn’t. I know because I was, and have often said is a good example of why courts don’t–and shouldn’t–permit hearsay testimony.  That is covered in pages 65-67 of my book, Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J.Simpson.

oj simpson

Fielding an L.A. Times Query

Gorgeous weather can have a downside, at least it did for me yesterday.

I was out in it all day, so didn’t see this email until after dinner:

From: Stevens, Matt
To: Judge Lance Ito
Cc: Jerrianne Hayslett
Sent: Fri, Jun 13, 2014 4:09 pm

Judge, thank you for responding and looping in Jerrianne. If I have any further queries, I’ll be quickly in touch.

Jerrianne, if you have any input you’d like to share, please feel free to do so. We’re right up against deadline, so I’m not sure what we’ll be able to get in the paper. But we’d welcome your thoughts.

From: Judge Lance Ito

Sent: Friday, June 13, 2014 2:05 PM

To: Stevens, Matt
Cc: Jerrianne Hayslett

Matt:  The Simpson case is still a pending collection matter and the Canons of Ethics restrain me from responding.  You may wish to speak to Jerrianne Hayslett who was the court’s PIO at the time.

From: Stevens, Matt

Sent:  6/13/2014 10:42 AM

To: Judge Lance Ito

My name is Matt Stevens and I’m a reporter for the LA Times. I know you’ve been barraged by requests to speak about the O.J. trial over the years, and especially, I’m sure, within recent days.

We too have a story set to run tomorrow looking back. In it we discuss many of the lessons folks say were learned from the trial.

As you’re aware, some have accused you of running too loose a ship during that trial and keeping an eye on the cameras. “He would have celebrities in his chambers, and that didn’t look good,” veteran defense attorney Harland Braun told us.

We’d like to give you a chance to respond to those criticisms or comment generally on the case if you desire.

We’re on an immediate deadline, as the story is scheduled to run in tomorrow’s paper. But we’d love to talk with you if you are willing.



Even though the hour was late, I sent the following reply to Matt Stevens:

I’ve been out all day, Matt, and just saw this email. I’ll try to answer and hope it’s not too late.

I was in the courtroom every day of the Simpson trial and believe I had a good sense of what went on both in the courtroom and behind the scenes.

Re: Judge Ito’s courtroom management. He is a jurist who believes in allowing lawyers to put on their cases. When it became apparent that counsel in the Simpson trial were abusing the rein he gave them, he took measures to corral them. He fined them, sanctioned them, admonished them from the bench, chided them in chambers and issued written orders. One order, issued on April 26, 1995, titled “Attorney Conduct” addressed nine specific areas with specific instructions concerning their behavior and courtroom demeanor, including prohibiting “speaking objections” and reactions such as “gestures, eye rolling, head nodding, laughter, stage-whispered comments or any other conduct of reaction which is visible and/or audible to the jury.”

His intent for the cameras was that they provide the public a view of the trial that they had a right to see. He was not interested in being on camera himself and repeatedly asked the media not to focus on him.

Re: celebrities in chambers. Of the few, the most notable were Katie Couric, which was a Public Information Office staffer’s doing, and Larry King, which was my suggestion, primarily because Larry King had cooperated with two of Ito’s requests when no other member of the media did. Many, many others asked to visit him in chambers, but were denied. Some journalists who had not achieved celebrity status at the time, such as Jeffrey Toobin, did after submitting repeated requests.

Interestingly, although I was present in chambers when those and many other individuals visited the judge, to my knowledge Harland Braun was never in Ito’s chambers during that trial, so any information he believes he’s been privy to, is hearsay.

Thank you for contacting me and, again, I hope this will meet your deadline.

Jerrianne Hayslett

Matt was courteous enough to reply, even though I didn’t send my email until after 7:30 p.m., saying he wasn’t sure his update made, it but that he might contact me again if the Times does a follow.

The story, Simpson murder case brought change to LAPD, D.A.’s office, in today’s edition doesn’t appear to include my input, even obliquely.

Neither is it as castigating or derisive as other accounts have been over the years. It is disappointing, however, to know that the vast majority of the critics–even those in judicial circles–either have no first-hand experience or knowledge of the trial, didn’t read the transcript or lack objectivity, such as lawyers involved in the case and members of the media Ito kicked out of the courtroom for misbehaving, such as L.A. Times reporter Matt Stevens’ co-writer on this story, Gale Holland.

Ito’s court order, dated May 18, 1995,  which is on page 49-50 of Anatomy of a Trial says, in part, “The Court has received notes from two jurors complaining of noise created by two news reporters in the audience section of the courtroom. … Talking or whispering amongst audience members while court is in session is never acceptable behavior, especially when it interferes with the jury’s ability to hear the evidence. The court finds good cause to bar Kristin Jeanette-Meyers/Court TV and Gail [sic] Holland/USA Today from admission to Department 103.”

Even though I have long since left my position as the L.A. courts’ media liaison and no longer in the business of having to field media questions for the court or its judges, I think I’ll try to check email more often, even when outside in the sunshine when it’s nearly impossible to see my cell phone screen.

I Wonder if They’ll Call

I wondered today if I should be sitting by the phone awaiting a call.
What about?
To be invited to serve as an adviser or consultant on a movie being touted to “take viewers behind the scenes of ‘The Trial of the Century,’ driven by the nonstop plot of a courtroom thriller and presenting the story of the trial as it has never been told,” a Los Angeles Times story, quoting a publicity statement, said.

O.J. Simpson trial and ‘Shogun’ to become Fox movie events


Behind the scenes of 1995 Simpson murder trial? No one had a more “behind the scenes” view or role that I did — save, the judge, Lance Ito, and his courtroom staff. That, in fact, is what my book Anatomy of a Trial is all about. That and the often-erroneous perception people — and particularly members of the judiciary around the world — had, and still have, of that trial. So, I would be the perfect consultant.

The movie, with working title “The Run of His Life: “The People v. O.J. Simpson”, is reported to be based on a book of that name by CNN legal correspondent,author, and New Yorker magazine contributor Jeffrey Toobin.

A clue to my opinion of Toobin’s book, or at least a part of it, can be found on pages 65-67 of my book and is presaged on the home page of my website @ http://www.anatomyofatrial.com.

Another omen that might be a predictor of the movie’s accuracy is that the courtroom artist’s rendering that accompanied the L.A. Times story was done in Nov. 1996 and was of the 1996 trial, according to the illustration caption.

Simpson’s criminal trial, The People vs  Orenthal James Simpson, ended on October 3, 1995, with not guilty verdicts.

It seemed rather strange to me that the Times chose a sketch from a trial other than the one the movie is to be based on. There were hundreds of sketches done of the ’95 criminal trial.

Also in the spirit of accuracy, the 1996 trial, which actually was the 1996–97 trial, with the jury rendering its verdict on Feb. 4, 1997. I had an insightful behind-the-scenes role — and daily seat in the courtroom — in that trial, too.