Tag Archives: Judge Ito

Autopsy Photos: Coveted, Dissed

Kelli Sager’s here

Beseeching on press’s behalf.

Autopsy photos.


Media attorney Kelli Sager petitioned the court on the media’s behalf for them to have access to the autopsy photographs of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. Before Judge Ito ruled on Sager’s request, the prosecution presented the photos as evidence in the trial. Below the following haiku is an account, much quoted from Anatomy of a Trial, chronicling that day.

No respect for kin.

Jurors view gruesome photos

While press eats, chews gum.


Ito had issued a court order, which I posted on the courtroom door and the backs of the spectator seats. The order prohibited talking, reading newspapers, chewing gum, eating or having audible cell phones and pagers on while court was in session. Despite being prominently displayed and being distributed to all media organizations that were assigned a courtroom seat. Yet people still talked, chewed and had phones and pagers going off in the courtroom. Ito scolded from the bench, had cell phones and pagers confiscated and had courtroom deputies get gum chewers spite their gum into. wads of toilet paper.

One day during the lunch recess, Ito summoned me.

“’Come here I want to show you something,’ he said, beckoning me up on the bench. He played a videotape of several spectators, all in media seats, masticating. While most appeared to be chewing gum, one was obviously popping handfuls of some kind of snacks into her mouth.

“Ito instructed me to have that person come to his chambers during the afternoon break. When court reconvened following that break, he announced that those who had been chewing gum and eating in court that morning were to be excluded from the courtroom. Instead of being contrite, as I expected, they and the rest of the media were aghast.

“’What?’ exclaimed USA Today reporter Sally Stewart. ‘Is he serious? He can’t be serious! He can’t do that! That is ridiculous, just for chewing gum in the courtroom. How come we don’t get any warning. He can’t just do that!’

“Stewart, one of the culprits, wondered along with others what the big deal was.

“The big deal, I explained over and over, was:

“(1)   Judges commonly don’t allow eating, drinking or gum-chewing in their courtrooms,

“(2)   Most courtrooms have those prohibitions posted on their doors, as did Ito’s,

“(3)   Ito had issued a specific court order forbidding chewing gum, eating, drinking, reading newspapers, talking, and passing notes in the courtroom, and had copies of the order taped in plain sight all over his courtroom,

“(4)   Not a day goes by that deputies don’t tell spectators not to chew gum and even hand them wads of toilet paper to spit theirs in,

“(5)   Everybody in the courtroom watches those little dramas, complete with the gum chewers’ sheepish looks.

“’It is just unbelievable,’ I recorded in my journal on the way home that night, ‘I don’t know why they think they haven’t had any warning or why they think they don’t know the rules.

“But the way the media related this in their reports was to demean Ito, call him petty and accuse him of blowing minutia out of proportion, given the serious business everyone was there for. Los Angeles Times columnist and future city editor Bill Boyarsky, for instance, announced a preview of his account.

“’I know what my column is going to be about tomorrow,’ he said. ‘My third grade teacher, that’s who Judge Ito reminds me of¼no chewing gum in class.’

“That just went with the territory, so far as Ito was concerned, but what had really offended him was the media’s insensitivity to what else was occurring in the courtroom as the reporter snacked on Skittles. The Los Angeles County medical examiner was testifying about the autopsy photographs and explaining to jurors what they were looking at. I felt pretty outraged myself.”

“’Here is the medical examiner describing those horrendous, fatal wounds,’ I recorded in disgust. ‘Photographs that are graphic. The wounds are laid wide open. Here are jurors who are trying to look at those photographs and understand the portent of it all. Here are the relatives of the people whose loved ones were killed and whose bodies are laid out there for all to see. And here is this woman who is so insensitive that she is popping food in her mouth and chewing so casually as if this is just a leisure activity. And people were saying, ‘How come the judge overreacted?’ I don’t call that an overreaction, I call that a compassionate human being.’”

The Mugs Rolled In

Radio hosts hope

Their wares will make it on air.

Coffee mugs arrive.


They apparently hoped that their mugs would make it out to Judge Ito’s bench so they could be televised via the courtroom camera.


Another Juror Kicked

A juror question.

453 is excused.

Just what she asked for.


So many jurors got kicked during the course of the Simpson trial that before it was all over the 12 people who were selected as regular jurors had all been replaced by the 12 people who were selected as alternate jurors. Here’s an excerpt from my recorded journal about a juror being dismissed:

” … there was an article in the Daily News about yet another juror asking to be released from jury duty.  This one complaining that her husband is sick and she is concerned about him and it is distracting and so forth.  She was identified as a 38-year-old white woman and I showed it to Judge Ito and I sure hadn’t heard anything about it.  So he asked if they identified the juror and I said, “Yes, a 38-year-old white woman,” and he said, “Yep, that’s her,”

Apparently this knowledge came out in the conversations that the judge had with the jurors.  The transcripts of those meetings, which were held in chambers with the doors closed, have not yet been released.  So it’s like, OK, how do they know?  And he said, “How does the press find this out?”  I said, “Well, you’ve got some attorneys that are talking — either that or it’s your court reporter and I don’t think it’s your court reporter.” So he said, “Hmm, [he named another person who was present during the conversation] was in those meetings.” … I said, “Well, I know that [person Ito named]has a very, very cozy relationship with a member of the media, not associated with the Daily News, in fact it’s [I named that person and that person’s news organization].  If she’s got a cozy relationship with one, she could very easily have a cozy relationship with others.”  He said, “Yeah, well, I think she is the problem.  She has been in here, I have allowed her to be in here, I think she is not going to be in here anymore.=  Then, in open court, he said that he wanted to meet with the lead counsel from both sides at noon for about 15 minutes in chambers.  I asked him what it was about because the media will want to know what it is about and he said, “It’s none of their business, but between you and me I’ll tell you, it’s about this article. I’m thinking about requiring every single person who was in my meetings with the jurors to make a sworn affidavit statement swearing that they did not leak this information.” … I asked him if he is sure that his chambers are not bugged and he said, “Yeah, they have come in and swept it.”  I said, “What about the telephones?” and he said, “Well, you know it could be.”

He talked to the sheriff’s sergeant in charge of the 9th floor about checking to see if his telephone was tapped.

An Exclusive Show

It’s for the jury.

A Star Center performance

Jay Leno was there.


Jay Leno invited the sequestered jurors to attend a performance of his “Tonight Show” in Burbank, but when he couldn’t guarantee that none of them would be in shots when cameras swept the the audience, he offered to stage a private performance, complete with the show’s band,  where ever the court chose. It turned out to be at the Sheriff Department’s training facility, called the Los Angeles County Star Center.

I attended show, It felt almost surreal to see Leno and his band leader Kevin Eubanks almost within arms’ reach and watching them put on the same type of performance that I had only, to that point, seen on TV.

Part of my participation in arranging for the performance was to contact Leno’s office to provide information about conditions Judge Ito required before he would allow the show to take place. Instead of talking to some staff member,to my surprise, I was asked to hold for ‘Jay.” Sure enough, Leno came on the line. We talked, not only that time, but later when he called back for clarification about some detail, which I can’t recall, and apparently didn’t note in either my written or my recorded journals.


The Fast-Talking Accented Lawyer

Neufeld talks too fast.

Court reporters can’t keep up.

Ito picks on him.


Defense lawyer Peter Neufeld — yes, the same Peter Neufeld featured in blog posts last November and December when I noted the bi-coastal kerfluffle he caused by double-booking court appearances — made the news again in April because of his -fast-talking ways. Here’s what I said about it in the audio journal I kept during the Simpson trial:

“Judge Ito had asked Neufeld to slow down a little and said something to the effect that with the pace and his Brooklyn accent the court reporters are having difficulty keeping up.  So that was immediately turned inside out that Judge Ito was making fun of Neufeld’s accent and in fact, I believe he prefaced his remark with ‘I don’t mean to single you out, Mr. Neufeld, but we need to slow down the pace. The pace that you are going and your Brooklyn accent, the court reporters are having difficulty keeping up’ or words to that effect.  So, the headlines were something about, ‘Ito says lawyer talks funny’ – like he was really kind of making fun of his Brooklyn accent in the story.”

I had noted his accent earlier in my journal.

“… not only does he have a New York accent but its an accentuated New York accent so he pronounces her [witness Andrea Massola] name Ms. Mazzoler instead of Mazzola and he pronounces words like saw ‘sawr’.  He has an extra vowel in his vocabulary.  Instead of a-e-i-o-u and sometimes y.  It is a-e-i-o-u and sometimes y and r!”

It seems like I was as grasping as the news media for a scrap of something to write/talk about, but at least my excuse was I had a long commute, which is when I talked into my tape recorder about events of the day.

Diane was Celeb of the Day

Stars shine on the court.

All ask for private meetings.

Diane Sawyer’s here.


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.

An Unusual Request

Defense, D.A. spar.

Ito rules jury won’t hear.

Simpson wants to talk


This relates to a set-to in court the day before when Simpson’s defense attorney asked Judge Ito if Simpson himself could address the jury during opening statements. After some arguing back and forth between the defense and prosecution, Ito said no.

Simpson ended up not testifying in his own defense during that phase of the trial, so if he wanted to tell the jury his version of that night, why would his attorneys want him to talk directly to the jury during opening statements, but not from the witness stand?

Legal experts might have another answer, but mine is it was because if he testified as a witness, he would be subjected to cross examination. If he were allowed to speak directly to the jury as part of the defense’s opening statements, he could say whatever he or his lawyers wanted him to without challenge or questioning from the prosecution.

‘Juror Problems’ Before Selection is Complete

Time for preempt’ries.

Not yet! First a closed hearing.

A “juror issue.”


Jury selection was about to be completed with lawyers exercising the final challenges so 12 alternate jurors could join the 12 regular jurors who had already been selected. Instead,  the rest of the day was taken up with meetings between Judge Ito and lawyers about concerns that were raised about some of the jurors who had already been seated as regular jurors.

No Conflict in Fuhrman Probe — Yet

A racist and sexist?

Fuhrman probe was conducted

Not by Capt. York.


LAPD Captain Margaret York is Judge Ito’s wife. but since she was not involved in the internal investigation into racism and sexism allegations against LAPD Detective Mark Fuhram, who was the lead detective in the Simpson case, no conflict of interest was seen. This, however, was not the last of such charges leveled at Fuhrman, as least so far as racism allegations is concerned. And the conflict wasn’t with LAPD.

Throw back Thursday — to Letterman’s Top 10 List

The top 10 is out:

Signs you’re in love with Ito.

It’s Letterman’s list.


I don’t remember what was on David Letterman’s list, but the topic on Nov. 17, 1994, was “Signs you’re in love with Judge Ito.” I didn’t get around to writing a haiku about it until Nov. 17 — which was a Thursday.