Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Where Have You Been, Gil Garcetti?

Former L.A. District Attorney Gil Garcetti has been encased in an impenetrable 20-plus year bubble or has dementia.

Simpson’s lawyers telling him to stop taking his arthritis medicine so his knuckles would swell, making the gloves difficult to get on was widely discussed, at least by members of the media, for months after the trial.

Yet the news is replete with sensational headlines these days about Garcetti not knowing about such a thing until he saw the FX Crime Story melodrama and about these startling “new details” in the case as the “news” media sinks further and further into grabbing readers and viewers at any cost muck.


Legal Punditry Begins to Look Attractive

NBC’s Jack Ford

Comments legally in style.

Ito eyes his job.


Even though Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito loved his job, an indication that the Simpson trial might be wearing on him a bit was his comment that a job he wouldn’t mind having was  what NBC legal commentator Jack Ford did.

Jury Visits Crime Scene, Defendant’s Home Haiku

Jury took a trip

By motorcading through town.

A crime scene visit.


This event was one of, if not the, most elaborately planned and surreal situations of the Simpson trial.

Here’s the description in Anatomy of a Trial of the lead up to and day of the jury’s crime-scene visit:

“The trip included quick stops at the apartment complex where Ronald Goldman had lived and Mezzaluna Restaurant, when he worked, then tours of the Bundy Drive condominium crime scene and Simpson’s Rockingham Avenue home two miles away.

“Ito oversaw the meticulous details of the trip, from police escorts and traffic blockades along the route to restriction of airspace to pool reporters’ cell phone use to unfurling curtain barricades and providing umbrellas and wide-brimmed hats at each stop to shield jurors from cameras.

“The entourage, which included police motorcycles, a bus with darkened windows for the jurors, and vans for court staff, the prosecution and defense teams, and the media, created almost as much of a spectacle as had Simpson’s slow-speed Bronco chase along the Los Angeles freeway system before his surrender and arrest nearly eight months earlier. Police blocked the Harbor  and Santa Monica freeway ramps between downtown at the courthouse, where the session convened , and Brentwood fifteen miles to the west.

“The media rented rooms with street-facing windows and stationed equipment vehicles along the route. Screaming, sign-waving mobs lined the curbs, stood on rooftops, hung out of windows, crowded overpasses, and posed for photographs as the caravan passed in the background. Kids on roller blades and skateboards raced alongside on streets and behind the bizarre parade.”

And it was all professionally and well documented photographically by pool photojournalist Haywood Galbreath.



Where’s the Watchdog in this Arrangement?

Call me cynical, but how this differs from foxes guarding hens, I can’t fathom:

Scott Walker proposal would put Supreme Court in charge of Judicial Commission

And despite risking the sting of disdain from my relatively new state mates (I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 13 years, but not nearly long enough to be considered a true Wisconsinite, never mind that a great-grandmother was born and grew up here and her father, my great-great-grandfather is buried here), I’m sticking my foot in it by pointing to my former host state of California as an excellent model for all states’ judicial oversight/disciplinary bodies, even though it didn’t start out that way.

Initially, the California Commission on Judicial Performance had a majority membership of judges and was under the authority of the state’s Supreme Court.

The commission, the first in the country, was created in 1961 with a nine-member membership of five judges, two lawyers and two members of the public and powers to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct. While the commission could recommend the removal or other discipline of a judge, the Supreme Court had the final say on any such recommendation. Also, commission proceedings leading to its recommendations were held in secret.

Two decades ago, the commission underwent some radical changes. Voters approved a statewide proposition that increased commission membership to 11 of three judges, two lawyers and six public members. Other changes mandated “open hearings in all cases involving formal charges, the amendment conferred the authority for censure and removal determinations upon the commission, rather than the Supreme Court, and transferred the authority for promulgating rules governing the commission from the Judicial Council [which is chaired by the state’s Chief Justice] to the commission.”

Another plus is that commission appointments was not a monopoly held by any one person or body. Of the current 11 members, three were appointed by the state Supreme Court,  four by the governor, two by the state Assembly speaker and two by the state Senate Rules Committee.

I don’t know specifics, but during my time with the Los Angeles Superior Court from 1991-2002, my understanding was that the number of investigations increased, commission proceedings were reported in the news media, the commission took more disciplinary actions and public confidence in the commission increased significantly.

Given that experience, Wisconsin would do well to adopt something similar, although in the current climate of consolidating power and control at the center, that is about as likely as foxes being great hen house cops.

How great it would be if that other would-be watchdog, the news media, would point that out.



Court TV Reporter Makes it Big

Another famous face from the O.J. Simpson trial was on TV tonight — totally unrelated to the trial of the 20th year anniversary of it.

Terry Moran, who was identified as living in Paris, reported from Paris on the unbelievably horrendous Charlie Hebdo massacre.

ABC News photo

Terry covered the ’95 Simpson trial, and several other high-profile cases while I was the Los Angeles Superior Court’s information officer, for the cable television network Court TV, now named truTV. In 1997, following the Simpson civil trial, in which the jury decided on a $33 million judgment against Simpson, Moran moved to ABC where he held a variety of positions, including anchoring the World News Tonight and Nightline before becoming the network’s chief foreign correspondent.

Way to go, Terry!

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!


One Lawyer Wanted by Two Judges

Rothwax is angry.

Neufeld is a wanted man.

No delays allowed.


New York Judge Harold Rothwax feuds with Judge Lance Ito in Los Angeles over one of Simpson’s many defense attorneys, Peter Neufeld, who has a case before Rothwax and is due in both judges’ courts on the same day. Thus ensued a cross-country judicial tug-of-war. It was only well after this event that it occurred to me that the judges might have been in cahoots with each other to teach a lesson to an over-confident and overly arrogant lawyer who had knowingly double-booked himself at trials on opposite coasts.

The Twenty-Year Taint–Still Misdirected

When I see commentaries like this Mankato (MN) Free Press opinion piece,  Our View: Cameras in courtroom should proceed, citing a 20-year-old  anomaly as the reason to bar cameras from courtrooms, I shake my head. 

It’s not that I disagree with it. I do. Instead, it’s why a trial from two decades ago remains the standard bearer, or maybe that should be gold standard of, or actually the great barrier, to permitting public access to the nation’s courtrooms?

Here’s the Manakato Free Press editorial opening paragraph:

“The O.J. Simpson trial may have made for gripping TV, but it isn’t what the public would see if cameras were allowed in more Minnesota courtrooms.”

Neither the Simpson trial nor “gripping TV” is what the public sees in Los Angeles, California, or the other 35 or so states that allow courtroom-camera coverage. Although California tightened its courtroom-camera coverage rules a year or two after the Simpson trial, to primarily give trial judges more discretion over whether to allow cameras in cases they presided over, that state has continued to allow camera coverage. Among the hundreds of trials in California since Simpson at which cameras were permitted was Phil Spector’s murder trial, both the 2007 trial and the 2009 retrial.

Dozens of high-profile trials in other states in the past twenty years have also been televised, most with much hoo-ha. Then there was the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa just this year, which was the first trial ever televised in that country. Although some were media clamors at trials such as the 2011 Casey Anthony trial, that was by no means the fault of cameras in the courtrooms. Rather it was the same kind of media hype that turned a number of trials into media spectacles, such as the 2004 trial of Scott Peterson for murdering his wife, Laci, and Martha Stewart’s obstruction-of-justice trial, also in 2004, neither of which had camera coverage.

There are far more compelling reasons than not to permit camera coverage of trials in this country. The Mankato Free Press cited one in the subhead of its piece:

“Why it matters: The more access the public has to how the criminal justice system works, the more they will know about it.”

Another, and I think a more important, reason is because it should be the public’s right to be able to observe the country’s and every state’s justice systems at work.


Pistorius, Simpson Parallels — and Not

The premise of how eerily similar Olympian Oscar Pistorius’s case in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is to that of  the 1994-95 O.J. Simpson case in the slashing murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her acquaintance Ronald Goldman — including this one,  OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL PARALLELS OJ SIMPSON’S TRIAL TWO DECADES EARLIER posted today on eCanadanow.com — has circled the globe many times over since Pistorius shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

And, indeed, there are some similarities, such as:

  • Both of the accused were famous sports heroes,
  • Both of the victims (or at least one of the victims in Simpson’s case) were beautiful blonde women, whom the accused either supposedly loved or at one time loved,
  • Trials in both cases captivated large numbers of the public
  • Trials in both cases were televised.

That’s about where the parallels end, though.

It seems to me that much more was different than similar in those cases, including:

  • Pistorius admitted that he fired the gun that killed Steenkamp, Simpson not only denied wielding the knife that slashed Brown and Goldman, he claimed to have been in Chicago, a couple thousand miles away from Los Angeles where Brown and Goldman were murdered.
  • A single judge weighted the evidence and delivered the verdict in Pistorius’s trial as opposed to 12 jurors in Simpson’s trial,
  • Nothing I read or heard about the Pistorius case raised the notion that anyone tried to play the “race card,” unless someone wants to try to make something of the judge, Thokozile Masipa, being black and Pitorius white. So far as I know, no one did.
  • While Pitorius wasn’t convicted of premeditated murder, neither was he acquitted and walk out of the courtroom a free man as Simpson did. Instead, Judge Masipa, found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide. Although he has yet to be sentenced, culpable homicide generally carries a sentence of five years in prison.

It seems to me that all these two cases really had in common was that the defendants were celebrated athletes accused of killing beautiful blonde-haired women they either loved or formerly loved. But, what kind of headline would that make?


A Writing-Process Blog Tour

In addition to nonfiction, which includes my book Anatomy of a Trial, maintaining three blogs and my extensive journalism career, I write stories for children. After relocating to Wisconsin more than a dozen years ago, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been learning that art and craft, as well as the frustrations, barriers and vagaries that are endemic in the children’s publishing world. Recently, another member of the SCBWI Wisconsin chapter, Andrea Skyberg, invited me to participate in a Writing Process Blog Tour.

Andrea is unique in the kiddy lit world. She’s not only an author and illustrator (oh, how I envy writers who can professionally illustrate their books!), so is her husband Michael Greer, and together they operate the Wooden Nickel Press, which publishes picture books and illustrated middle grade novels.

As an artist-educator, Andrea develops collaborations with children to create her picture books. She’s worked with more than 15,000 students as a visiting author and artist-in-residence, creating and sharing her books  CommuniTree (2013),  Squircle (2013),  and Snickeyfritz (2009). Her books  have been honored with the Mom’s Choice Award Gold & Silver medals, a Moonbeam Award, and a Next Generation Indie Book Finalist Award.

Andrea is not just an SCBWI member, she is the Area Representative for SE Wisconsin. She runs the weekly blog feature, Tuesday Tours, which showcases artists’ and writers’ studios. For more information please visit Andrea at  andreaskyberg.com.

Here’s a peek at Andrea’s picture book, Squircle:

Squircle by Andrea Skyberg

Squircle follows a little girl named Evie who tries to catch a squirrel and ends up wandering through the forest on a magical adventure. Along the way, she unexpectedly meets a circle of woodland friends who inspire her to live in the moment, listen to her inner voice, and go with the flow of life. Using these tools to overcome negative emotions, such as anger, fear, and loneliness, Evie finds her joyful spirit. She realizes that she’s never alone, and in fact, she’s connected to everything around her, even the squirrel. With artwork created out of fabrics from around the world, appliquéd through hand stitching and machine embroidery, Squircle, takes readers on a journey through the woods to explain how we’re all interconnected and all part of the Squircle!

Participating in this blog tour involves answering four questions about my writing process. So here they are, with my answers: 

1.  What are you working on?

With a number of picture books in the mix, most still in need of more revising and all in the pre-published phase, a YA historical fiction near completion and a MG novel and sequel calling from my archives, I sometimes think I missed my calling to be a juggler. The more I learn about my writing colleagues, though, the more I realize how common it is for writers to juggle several projects at once.

2.  How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Perhaps the way my PB work most differs from others—at least those who are published—is that my stories don’t fall into any particular niche. I just write them because I love doing it. My YA historical fiction is based on an event I learned about in recent years and wanted to write about for young people. I was fortunate to have met the subject of the story and interview him a couple of years before he died, which I think offered a distinctive perspective from other authors of historical fiction set more than 80 years ago. During my research, I discovered and was shocked to learn that I have a personal connection to the story’s geographic setting.

3.  Why do you write what you do?

First, I love writing. I can’t imagine not writing. I’ve always done it. Much of it has been as a journalist, but even during those years I wrote short stories and children’s stories. I also love reading, I’ve read books since I was little, going back to Frog and Toad, Uncle Wiggly, Little Bear, fairy tales, and so on. I write PB-genre stories when I’m seized with an idea that tickles my fancy and hope to end up with something delightful. The YA historical fiction is a story I feel compelled to write. Although the actual event occurred more than 80 years ago, it is at least as, if not more, relevant today and significant for today’s young people to know.

4.  How does your writing process work?

Slowly, painfully, but with hope springing eternal. I have always written in early morning hours. I wrote a novel in longhand sitting in my parked car waiting for the gym to open where I worked out each morning before heading to my office in downtown Los Angeles. I tapped out much of the first draft of my adult nonfiction Anatomy of a Trial on my laptop in a hotel room during the months I worked as an international court-media consultant in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I still wake up early and hit the computer, first thing, seven days a week. I do a couple of things writers are told not to do; I revise as I write, and I don’t sit tight for hours on end. I read back several pages or a chapter or two to get my head back into the story and the characters, often revising as I read. As for sitting for hours, I stay put until my hinder-end hurts. So I take a few minutes’ break every hour or two. Something else that slows me down is research. Details and timelines constantly pop up that send me to the Internet or printouts I’ve made at the library. I get so lost in it, suddenly, my writing time is up or life intrudes.

The most significant aspect of my writing since joining SCBWI in 2005 is the feedback I get from my PB critique group and from a non-SCBWI writers group two non-children’s writers and I formed three years ago who are assisting me with my YA project.

So is there any hope that my first picture book effort, Magnificent Millicent, subsequently renamed Molly’s Magnificent Egg, will see print – other than the actual book I created along with illustrations such as this?

Any children’s writers who would like for me to plug you and your work on my blog, are interested in answering these four questions on their blog and invite three other authors to participate in the tour, please let me know and we’ll do it!