Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Linda Deutsch: Retires from The AP to Write Memoir

Passing the torch.

Changing of the guard.

End of an era.

All of those cliches could be said about the news that Linda Deutsch is hanging it up after a 48-year career with The Associated Press. But none them fit. One reason is because no phrase, label or accolade has been created that could come close to Linda and the stupendous body of work she amassed in her nearly give decades as a court beat/legal affairs reporter at the AP. Another is that cliches are trite and Linda isn’t.

Linda’s prowess as the doyenne of celebrity and notorious trials was well established — starting with the 1970 Charles Manson murder trial — when she became known to me. She was one of the media minions covering the 1992 Rodney King-beating trial, which was my baptism by fire as the greener than green new Los Angeles county courts public information officer.

 One of three photographs of Linda that grace my office — right beside one of me with Jay Leno when I gave him a copy of my book, Anatomy of a Trial. This is an 8-1/2 x 11-inch  collage of some of the more notorious trials she covered, which she sent to me with the inscription, “To Jerrianne–who made it all easier. You’re a great pal. Linda Deutsch.” Another photo is of Linda and me with our friend, famed author, movie producer and TV host Dominick Dunne, who has since passed, at a Las Vegas restaurant following a court proceeding in the Simpson robbery trial, which resulted in a sentence of up to 33 years.

I quickly came to know and respect her professionalism, just-the-facts reportage, and accuracy through that and a host of other cases that paraded through the L.A. courts, not the least of which was the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial.

She not only was a straight-shooter with me and her readers, she worked to keep judges honest, particularly when they closed proceedings to the public.  Her tenacity and passion for freedom of the press and the people’s right to know is reflected in the many mentions of her in Anatomy, such as this one: “She was also frequently the first, and often the only one, to leap to her feet in a courtroom to object when she believed a judge was about to wrongfully close proceedings to the public.”

The few stories I could tell about Linda would barely fill a thimble of her lifetime of experiences in the court/judicial/legal world. I, along with her legions of friends and colleagues, have been urging her for years to write a book.

It looks like she’s about to do that. “I consider it less a retirement than a transition to a new phase of my career — writing a memoir of my life and trials. And who knows what else will follow? In one way or another, I will continue to pursue my twin passions: journalism and justice,” she posted on Facebook.

‘Yay, Linda! I can’t wait to read it. But why couldn’t you wait just two more years and make it an even 50?

Bottom line, though, Linda is irreplaceable. She is among the last of the, not just truly great, but true journalists. Please, won’t someone rise up and again make journalism the watchdog and be the objective eyes and ears the public so desperately needs!


Digital ‘Anatomy’ Marks Bronco-Chase Anniversary

Whoopee! Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson is now out in digital format. Check it out at publisher University of Missouri Press’s website here:  http://press.umsystem.edu/product/Anatomy-of-a-Trial,1229.aspx.

Roll out on Monday, June 17 — nineteen years to the day after O.J. Simpson’s infamous slow-speed Bronco chase that preceded his arrest on charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Who could have known back then the outcome of his 1995 trial and the ongoing saga that has encompassed two subsequent high-profile Simpson trials and his eventual imprisonment on a totally unrelated event.

And even from behind bars where he’s serving a sentence of up to 33 years after being convicted of kidnap and robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007, he continues to make news. Most recently, he’s appeared back in a Las Vegas courtroom trying to get the 2008 conviction overturned on the grounds that his lawyer had a conflict of interest and provided ineffective counsel.


Real Meaning Behind “…looking good in shackles”

Scanning through the countless stories about O.J. Simpson’s week-long Las Vegas court appeal for a new trial has been interesting–particularly the final day on Friday, which included testimony from former Simpson attorney Yale Galander, whom Simpson blames for his robbery conviction.

Here are links to a couple of those stories:

OJ Simpson Trial: Yale Galanter, Former OJ Attorney, Testifies In Las Vegas Hearing http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/17/oj-simpson-trial-yale-galanter_n_3291618.html?ncid=webmail4

Attorney angrily defends handling of O.J. Simpson case http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oj-simpson-20130518,0,2067374.story

But the piece that stopped me was by Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian, which bore the headline O.J. Simpson: Older, grayer, wider, looking good in shackles 

Like a lot of people in this country, Abcarian professed to being sick unto death of   all things Simpson. Yet, she tuned in to watch him shamble into a Las Vegas courtroom last week in a blue prison jumpsuit and footwear instead of the custom-tailored threads and Bruno Maglis that marked better times.
Her observations were captured by her column headline “…older, grayer, wider, looking good in shackles.”
I was an Abcarian fan during her earlier stint with the Times and an admirer of her insights. With the take-away of her column last week being nothing more than the oh, so, superficial aspect of how he looked, my initial reaction was that she has lost her edge, snarky as the “looking good in shackles” might have seemed.
After re-reading and reflecting on it, though, I’m thinking maybe I misjudged her. Could her commentary be blow-back for all the stories about the ’95 Simpson trial that focused on Marcia Clark’s wardrobe and ‘do, rather than on her professional performance? Or could it possibly be a commentary on her opinion of the ’95 trial jury’s verdict? Could she have thought that verdict was wrong and that he should have been led away in shackles back then instead of being set free?
Guess I’ll never know, but it’s fun to speculate.

Simpson Older, Grayer. Aren’t We All

You can not only see an O.J. Simpson who’s five years older since his 2008 robbery conviction in Las Vegas in this story, you can watch video of him chatting and joking with his new attorney in his bid to blame his previous lawyer for his current predicament.

O.J. Simpson Makes Bid for New Trial, in First Public Appearance in Four Years http://abcnews.go.com/US/oj-simpson-makes-bid-trial/story?id=19169053#.UZIndaKsh8E

Even though I spent time in his Vegas trial courtroom and in the Los Angeles courtroom of his 1995 trial for murder and Santa Monica courtroom where his 1997 wrongful death trial took place, it’s this Oct. 3, 2012, story that was linked to the one above that interested me:

O.J. Simpson Acquittal Anniversary: Where Are They Now?  http://abcnews.go.com/US/oj-acquittal-anniversary-now/story?id=17377772#

A couple of these people seem to have hardly aged at all, while others, well … .

I also wonder why Mark Fuhrman is the only one still amongst us whose 17-years-later photo is not included, particularly given that he has “successful career as a New York Times best-selling author and TV analyst. He is a forensic and crime scene expert for Fox News and hosts a radio show in Spokane, Wash.” So, it’s not as if he’s been hiding under a rock and no current photo of him could be found.

Not Such a Nice Girl — or Boy — After All

Jake Tapper, previously an ABC corespondent and now with CNN, on the NPR program Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me — of all places — told about having a date with Clinton White House intern Monica Lewinsky before news of her relationship to the president had broken. Some time after that date, Tapper was on a scuba-diving vacation with his father in the Cayman Islands when he saw the headline in the Caymanian Compass. His reaction?

“Oh, my god!”  http://www.npr.org/2012/12/01/166240236/jake-tapper-of-abc-news-plays-not-my-job

That was my reaction to the news many years earlier that O.J. Simpson was the primary suspect in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman — except that I had never dated Simpson. In fact, I hadn’t even met him. But like just about everybody else in the country, I knew him.

Or thought I did.

Football great, Hertz and HoneyBaked Ham pitchman, Naked Gun movie actor, all-around good guy.

Seeing him in the courtroom, interacting with his defense attorneys and others during his 1994 pretrial proceedings and his 1995 trial,  didn’t do much to challenge that image, despite evidence alleging otherwise. At most, the self-centered sense of entitlement that isn’t uncommon with gifted athletes who are courted and coddled from high school — and even earlier — on through scholarships and ivory-towered college sports program, began to bleed through.

An example was his lawyers bringing special food to the courtroom for his lunch so he wouldn’t have to suffer the “mystery-meat” sandwich and apple sack lunches given jail inmates in courthouse lockup. That lasted until word got to the trial judge, Lance Ito, who ordered it stopped.

I got a better sense of another Simpson during his 1997 civil trial that resulted in a $33.5 million judgment against him. Unlike the criminal trial, Simpson was not in custody, so he frequently held forth in the Santa Monica courthouse corridors.

One day a high school student whose teacher had arranged to help me out as a volunteer said she didn’t want to be around him because he hit on her. Interestingly, she was a pretty, shapely blonde.

I never actually “met” or talked to Simpson until his 2008 Las Vegas trial on robbery and kidnapping charges  trial. It was an awkward moment. I was going into the courtroom during a break in the proceedings and he was coming out. We met in the doorway.

Although we had never spoken, I knew that he knew who I was. How could he not? I was in the courtroom almost every day of both his ’95 criminal trial and his ’97 civil trial.

After we each said “hi” as we stood there in that Las Vegas courtroom doorway, what to say next. So I blurted out, “How are you?”

Well, duh. He had a ten-year-old $33.5 million judgment against him that he hadn’t paid a penny toward. The ivory tower of his youth and glory days had crumbled to dust. He was the ongoing butt of endless jokes. And he was, yet again, on trial for crimes that could land him in prison for years. (And did!) So, how the heck did I think he was?

And what the heck was I doing at that trial in Las Vegas, anyway? I no longer worked for any court in the country and had long-ago moved out of California.

Although the Simpson trial in Las Vegas would be interesting, the only reason I went was to see my friend Dominick Dunne who had been diagnosed with what was expected to be a terminal illness. (And it was.)

So, have you known, or thought you knew, someone who turned out to be vastly different from the image they presented or passed themselves off to be? Someone who gave you an “Oh, my god!” moment?


Building …

Given a choice of journalism students to speak to, University of Nevada, Reno, has got to be right up there. Las Vegas courts information officer Michael Sommermeyer and I held forth about “Simpson Then and Now” at the university’s Journalism Week. Michael summed it up pretty well when said, the 1995 trial in Los Angeles was the trial of the century, the 2008 trial in Las Vegas was the hangover. Thanks to the UNR IT folks and Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media Director Gary Hengstler, the session was a pretty high-tech affair. It was streamed live onto the Web, it was professionally videotaped for uploading onto the University’s website, Michael Twittered about it and posted an email on the Conference of Court Public Information Officers listserv. And the journalists in training asked great questions. After high-fiving each other, Michael and I decided to take our act on the road. Now to find a sugar daddy to underwrite the show.

And therein lies the misconception of what happens when a book is published. It’s pretty frigging expensive — for the author. And I’m not talking about the self-published author. Permissions fees in the hundreds of dollars, for photographs and other copyrighted material, website development and maintenance, gift copies for people who agreed to be interviewed, book tour expenses, ads and other promotional costs? All funded by the author. In fact, given the costs, there’s little likelihood of ever even breaking even, much less ending up on the black side of the ledger. So why do it? Perhaps my fellow Missouri Press author Roy Harris whose seminal work on the Pulitzer Prize for puhlic service, Pulitizer’s Gold, was published last year, has the right attitude. The goal is to get the word out about the book.

Reno, Here I Come!

It’s still at the invitation stage, but come early March and I might be in Reno. Not for the gambling, though. The Reynolds School of Journalism is holding Journalism Week with special lectures and discussions by professionals in various areas of the media and communications. The program I’ve been invited to participate in with Las Vegas Court Information Officer Michael Sommermeyer is “OJ — then and now”. The idea is for the two court information officers for courts where O. J. Simpson trials were held, separated by 13 years and a host of changes in the media and technology advancements to share our observations about the media, what worked with our respective trials, what didn’t work and, in general, to talk about what made both trials special in their own ways.
I’m jazzed. It should be an interesting time!