Tag Archives: Judge Lance Ito

WAOW Doesn’t Deliver, Milwaukee Independent Does

Neither the Wausau TV station news director nor the interviewing reporter sent me the link, as they said they would, to the Simpson-parole piece they aired yesterday, so I went to their website and found:

http://www.waow.com/category/135525/video-landing-page?clipId=13511186&autostart=true

http://www.waow.com/story/35935004/milwaukee-author-reacts-to-oj-simpson-parole

Anyone who missed it didn’t miss much. What got me most, though, was that instead of using the photo I sent them, which they requested, they used a picture of me that I didn’t recognize.  It took a bit of poking around online, but I finally found it. It was taken by Milwaukee journalist Lee Matz and posted on his news and information site www.milwaukeeindependent.com. The same picture was included in a profile Matz published today. Here are links to the video and the text versions of the profile.

http://www.milwaukeeindependent.com/video/video-from-iranian-revolution-to-24-hour-news-cycle/

http://www.milwaukeeindependent.com/featured/jerrianne-hayslett-the-news-industrys-role-in-justice/

A huge thank you to Lee Matz and Milwaukee Independent.

It Wasn’t Just Her Hair

A story headlined The Female Gaze: Marcia Clark in ‘People v. O.J.’ faces sexism in the courts and in the media which was published in Daily Titan, the student newspaper of my alma mater, California State University, Fullerton, perpetuated at least one media generated People vs. Simpson misperception involving Marcia Clark’s hairdos.

I had to respond, so here’s what I wrote:

As L.A. Superior Court’s director of public information & media liaison during the 1990s, and was present in the courtroom every day of Simpson’s murder trial, I feel compelled to address some points in this article.

Regarding “As soon as she entered the courtroom, all eyes were on her hair.”, that is not true.

As noted in this article, Marcia Clark had two young sons who needed childcare on weekdays. Clark asked Simpson trial judge, Lance Ito, for trial proceedings to begin later than the court’s regular start time of 8:30 a.m. so she could take her boys to childcare herself, rather than have someone else do so. Ito accommodated her request by taking care of other court matters at 8:30 and scheduling trial proceedings to begin at 9 a.m. For whatever reason, however, Clark was chronically late, sometimes by half-an-hour or more. Indeed, all eyes were on her when she entered the courtroom, but not because of her hair. In fact, one morning after she had assured Ito she would be there for a specific matter, she wasn’t. He delayed and finally, with an apology to the jury, said court would remain in session with everyone seated and wait for Clark to arrive. We did, in uncomfortable silence, for many minutes. I didn’t keep track of exactly how long, but it is reflected in the court transcript. Here is my account of Clark’s morning arrival routine as described in my book, Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson http://www.anatomyofatrial….

“And her [Clark’s] late entrances, at times with an entire courtroom full of people—and, indeed, the entire television-viewing world—sitting and waiting, were just that. Entrances.

Rather than trying to be unobtrusive or quiet, she would shove the courtroom door open and prance in and down the tiled aisle with the clack of her spike-heeled pumps reverberating loudly in the otherwise silent surroundings. She would push through the little swinging gates in the rail and leave them flapping behind her as she crossed the courtroom well with the eyes of spectators, defendant, fellow attorneys, bailiffs, clerk, court reporter, judge and jurors following until she finally arrived, with no hint of apology in her body language, at her place at the counsel table, a bare arm’s reach from the jury box.”

Clark’s hair was an issue, not for trial participants, but for the news media and, I suspect, for District Attorney spokeswoman Suzanne Childs. Childs was much about appearance. Here’s another short excerpt from Anatomy of a Trial:

“Pulling me aside one day, Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti’s director of communications, Suzanne Childs, said that since the whole world was watching and forming an impression of the court and judge, she thought we should change out the florescent bulbs in the ceiling that were standard—and cast a rather harsh light—throughout the Criminal Courts Building and put in pink-tinted ones. Those, she asserted, would give the courtroom and everyone in it a softer look.”

I thanked Childs, but thought about the public outcry if the chronically underfunded court spent money on special lighting just for the sake of appearance when the media reported on it, which they would have.

It makes sense to me that Childs suggested that Clark change her hairdo, but I think it backfired. Had Clark not permed her hair in the midst of the trial, no one—either with the media or in the courtroom—would have even remarked about her hair, much less made it headline news.

MarciaClarkImage result for Marcia Clark's hairdos

I agree with this article’s assessment that unfair scrutiny is embedded in American culture, and is magnified and exacerbated by the media. I did a presentation years after the Simpson trial about how differently female attorneys in death penalty cases have been depicted in the news.

I was not immune. As you can see from my description above of Clark’s courtroom entrances I mentioned her clicking spike heels and what might be interpreted as “haughty” demeanor” (although in retrospect, she might have just felt self conscious).

And as a Cal State Fullerton alum who majored in communications/journalism, I learned from the best. –Jerrianne Hayslett

Where a Precious Few Are Now

In an apparent attempt to hitch a ride on Sunday’s Academy Awards in which ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America is nominated in the “Best Documentary Feature category, comes this brief on where five of the host of O.J. Simpson murder trial principals are now. I can’t think of any other justification for this little story.

Interestingly, the entry for the Simpson trial judge, Lance Ito, says he “became the most famous judge in the world, but then stayed out of the limelight. He retired in 2015.”

Omitted from that blurb is that during the 20 years between the end of the Simpson trial in 1995 and Ito’s retirement in  2015, he was one of the very few Los Angeles Superior Court judges to continue to allow camera coverage of proceedings in his courtroom. That in the face of judges and collective judiciaries in California, in the rest of the U.S. and in other countries that cited and continue to cite Ito allowing camera coverage of the Simpson trial for an almost universal camera ban in their jurisdictions.

 

Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson tells why Ito allowed cameras in both the Simpson trial and other court proceedings, and the fear and trepidation that kept his judicial colleagues from following suit.

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.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

It’s true that Marcia Clark got a lot of grief during the Simpson trial, much of it ridiculous, so far as I was concerned. Her hairdo, her attire, shade of her lipstick. Even though I thought all the coverage of her appearance was vapid non-news didn’t mean I had a favorable opinion of her or felt sorry for her.

She struck me as arrogant, haughty, overly confident and inappropriately flirtatious toward defense attorney Johnnie Cochran — when she wasn’t fighting with him.

My sole knowledge of her was from my courtroom vantage point. What I saw each day was a woman for whom the trial judge had agreed to start court a half-hour later than he wanted to because of her child-care situation, who, as I wrote in Anatomy of a Trial, “habitually arrived later than the agreed-upon later time. And her late entrances, at times with an entire courtroom full of people—and, indeed, the entire television-viewing world—sitting and waiting, were just that. Entrances.

“Rather than trying to be unobtrusive or quiet, she would shove the courtroom door open and prance in and down the tiled aisle with the clack of her spike-heeled pumps reverberating loudly in the otherwise silent surroundings. She would push through the little swinging gates in the rail and leave them flapping behind her as she crossed the courtroom well with the eyes of spectators, defendant, fellow attorneys, bailiffs, clerk, court reporter, judge and jurors following until she finally arrived, with no hint of apology in her body language, at her place at the counsel table, barely an arm’s reach from the jury box.”

I also thought she misjudged the jury.

I had no direct communication with her and knew only what was reported about her, which might have been no more accurate than representations many members of the media made about the trial judge, Lance Ito. That said, it was my understanding that Clark believed she had connected with the jurors and that they thought the prosecution was presenting a convincing cased against Simpson.

In my book, I described my perception of the jury’s reaction to her:

“The African-American women sitting in the jury seats no doubt understood child-care problems, but more likely from a different perspective than an affluent attorney. I detected a growing disdain among the jurors for Clark’s chronic tardiness—in itself a sign of disrespect for not only for them but for the entire court and its business—the haughty demeanor she projected, and inexplicable schizophrenic alternating hostility and flirtatious posturing toward defense attorney Cochran. The black female jurors’ body language included arms crossed over chests, heads lowered with chins tucked into necks and an almost imperceptible drawing back into their seats. Certainly, none of that was lost on arguably one of the defense team’s most perceptive and incisive members in the courtroom.”

An article I read recently, made me reconsider my perception. Was what I had seen as haughtiness really her way of dealing with the stupid media stories about her appearance. Was what I saw as her nose in the air really her holding her head high to show that she was above the mindless coverage and focusing on the serious business of prosecuting a man accused of committing a double murder.

Might what seemed to me to be vamping into the courtroom, unapologetic to anyone about anything have been her way of dealing with feeling self-conscious and trying to ignore the media’s superficial tripe?

In the article, “‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ star Sarah Paulson: It’s ‘mind-boggling’ that nobody rallied around Marcia Clark“, Paulson, who plays Clark in the miniseries is quoted as saying, “She was collectively abandoned by her people. She didn’t really have a lot of support from either other female attorneys or just women in general — and that, I think, is a great shame,” she continued. “I don’t know how she did it. I don’t know how she got up in the morning.”

Whether or not that was the case, I don’t know. But taking into consideration the ridiculous media coverage of her along with the marital and child-custody conflict going on in her personal life, which I don’t think was exaggerated in the miniseries, has made me rethink my assumption about her demeanor during the trial. How would I have acted entering a courtroom to face, not only the need to make my case, my responsibility to the people of the state I was representing, the murder victims’ families and the very people who were critiquing my clothing and hair  as if that were important news, or news at all? I wonder.

Simpson Trial Photographer Troubled by Miniseries

Interesting Facebook post by photojournalist Haywood Galbreath, who was the only photographer to be inside the courtroom every day of the Simpson trial.

Haywood Galbreath tagged you and Bobby Glanton Smith in a post.
Haywood wrote: “It’s almost time for FX American crime story “The people vs. O.J. Simpson” which comes on Tuesday nights on FX. I have been quite troubled with the representation of as I say the honorable Judge Lance Ito who was the presiding judge of the O.J. Simpson double murder trial. I say honorable judge Lance Ito because that is what he was and will always be to me. Judge Ito had an almost insurmountable task ahead of him in being the judge of the trial that became the largest criminal court case in the history of America. And arguably the largest media event of the 20th century. Mainstream media which is defined as white owned media organizations criticized the judge almost from the beginning to the end of the trial. Criticizing him and saying that he let the trial get out of hand. The only thing in the trial that was really out of hand was mainstream media and it continues to be in America! The idea that judge Ito was mesmerized by the attention of the media and celebrities is inaccurate and borders on blasphemy of the integrity of the judge and his name. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons mainstream media criticizes judge Ito is because of his fairness when it came to media coverage of the trial. And the judge made a decision, the unprecedented decision of giving the Black Press of America a photo position in the courtroom which had never taken place in the history of America. In such a large criminal court case or actually any type of case in America. I Point this out and Ms.Jerrianne Hayslett continues to point out the unfairness of mainstream media and the inaccuracy of the FX American crime story “The people vs. O.J. Simpson” portrayal/ betrayal of judge Lance Ito. And she also points out the lies of writer Jeffrey Toobin whose book the run for his life the miniseries is based on. I also want to point out something else, no journalist no matter how large of news gathering organization they worked for had more access to judge Ito than myself photojournalist Haywood Galbreath. I spend more time in the judge’s chambers asking to see him as well as him inviting me in to his chambers to speak with me than any other journalist covering the trial. For 21 years I’ve seen journalist and heard mainstream media condemn the honorable judge lance Ito, and at the same time talk about how they held audience with him and wear it as a badge of honor! I am almost certain that Ms. Hayslett can prove that those journalists are lying and it did not happen the way they said it did! And I challenge any of them to prove that I did not spend more time in the chambers of the honorable judge Lance Ito for honorable reasons than they did! -IHMPJ/HG- #americancrimestory #PeoplevsOJSimpson #highprofiletrial #anatomyofatrial #Photo #iconic #image #picoftheday #photography #photographer #photojournalism #photojournalist #HG #BlackPress #BlackPressUSA #NNPA #NPPA #FOX #FX #Americancrimestory #OJ #HaywoodGalbreath #Photobook #OJSimpson #blackhistorymonth #historymakers #thepeoplevsOJSimpson #haywoodOJbook #OJbook #”

Scenes from Fantasyland

The setting and the conversation were private. At least, in a TV show, they were, and to my knowledge, that’s the only place either happened.

On TV, former movie producer, turned author and Vanity Fair correspondent Dominick Dunne is sitting in Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito’s chambers. Ito is telling Dunne that he is giving Dunne a coveted courtroom seat next to members of the murder victims’ families, then pulls an autographed photo of TV personality Arsenio Hall out of a desk drawer and rather giddily shows it to a rather nonplussed Dunne.

First, I was present in the courtroom (not Ito’s chambers) when the seat assignments were made, which was in January,before opening statements in the trial. A law intern and I drew names out of a bag.

Second, Arsenio Hall, or someone, did send Ito an autographed photo of Arsenio Hall. But…

  1. that was long after the trial was underway, meaning, Dunne had been sitting in his assigned courtroom seat for weeks by that time,
  2. Jeffrey Toobin, on whose book the TV miniseries currently showing on the FX channel is based, was in Ito’s chambers for a few minutes the day the picture did arrive in the mail. How that visit came about is described in Anatomy of a Trial, and in no way resembles what Jeffrey Toobin describes in his book.
  3. Far from giddy or jazzed that Hall sent him the picture, Ito expressed near disgust. He didn’t have to pull it out of a desk drawer as if he were hiding or coveting it. Shortly before I escorted Toobin into Ito’s chambers (for a meeting Toobin had been begging for for weeks — “Just to say hello, to introduce myself and, as a lawyer, shake the judge’s hand.”), Ito had shown me the photo which had arrived in the mail that day and said, “Don’t these people have a life?” The context in which he said something similar to Toobin was in response to Toobin remarking about the attention the trial had gotten. The picture of Hall was laying on a table. Ito showed it and the note Hall had sent with it to Toobin and said something to the effect that he had been getting all kinds of stuff in the mail, then added. “You would think these people would have something better to do.” (A more detailed account of Toobin’s brief visit in Ito’s chambers is on page 64 of my book.)

Did Dunne meet privately with Ito in his chambers before the trial began? I don’t know. What I do know is that I generally acted as the liaison between media types, and that included Dunne, and the judge and accompanied them if they met with him. In another chapter of my book I tell about a meeting Dunne had with Ito that did happen, in which I was present.

But telling what people actually said and did and what their intentions were would not make nearly as great of a  story as fantasies or “dramatic license”.