Tag Archives: Simpson

One Final Haiku

It’s history now

Jury was unanimous.

Community split.

10/3/95

Something many of us who were involved with the Simpson case, both as court officials and as members of the media, had no idea about was:

(1) How profoundly the trial would affect judiciaries and public perception around the world,

(2) That the affect would reverberate for so many years, and,

(3) That 20 years later it would continue to make headlines or be the subject of newly released documentaries or the basis of a TV drama.

Wonder if will remain as alive by the 25th anniversary of the verdicts. Maybe you will find out with me.

A Rush to Print, Nevermind the Fallout

 Book by Michael Knox.

Life as sequestered juror.

U.S. judge unbans.

6/2/95

My book Anatomy of a Trial chronicles on page 117 that Simpson Trial Judge Lance Ito admonished jurors to ignore the photos [in Simpson’s house when the jury toured it], but one apparently didn’t, at least not to the satisfaction of prosecutors. That, plus allegations that Michael Knox had bet a friend during jury selection that Simpson would be acquitted, moved him off the jury on March 1. Knox apparently was also keeping notes for a book. His The Private Diary of an O. J. Juror, published just three months later, was the first out about the trial.

Page 127 reveals Ito’s concerns about the book being published before the trial was over. “Although a recently enacted law barred former jurors from profiting from their jury experience until ninety days after they had served, Ito’s concern focused primarily on the identities of the jurors still in service and the sequestration site. Although he and I both knew that the major news organizations already had extensive information about all of the jurors, including where they were sequestered, none had made it public. An investigation to ensure that Knox’s book hadn’t compromised the jury and preparing for a hearing about it also took time away from the trial.”

Even though Knox’s book debuted a day or two after the 90-day ban period, a federal judge struck down California’s law prohibiting jurors from selling their stories after they left jury duty.

The Mystery is Solved!

No, not the mystery of “Did he do it?” That was settled long ago, at least in the minds of everyone who had an opinion.

This mystery was, where did Jeffery Toobin come up with his tale of what happened in Simpson trial judge Lance Ito’s chambers when TV talk show celebrity Larry King visited during the trial?

Larry King revealed the answer himself last night at a Los Angeles Society of Professional Journalists’ super-duper, fantastic Linda Deutsch Roast. Deutsch rested her 48-year career in January as The Associated Press’s star reporter for high-profile and notorious trials since the 1969 Manson Family spectacles. Last night, journalists and media lawyers from far and wide gathered to honor and poke fun at this super-scribe and maven of courtroom dramas.

King blew in and out of last night’s soiree long enough to regale the 200 or so (my uneducated guesstimate) attendees with anecdotes and jokes, mostly about himself. (A reporter sitting next to me summed up King’s performance succinctly with his observation that, “I thought this was supposed to be about Linda.”)

One tale King told was about his visit with the judge during a break in the trial. Except for a few embellishments, such as getting a FAX signed “Lance” (he didn’t know anyone named Lance he told the Roast audience, and weren’t people named Lance gay?) inviting him to visit, King related almost word for word what Toobin wrote about that visit in his book, which Toobin promoted by calling Ito a “La-La-Land judge.”

“He had all his press clippings there,” King said last night. “He was so proud of them and he went on and on about them. Finally, I said, ‘Don’t you have to get back to the trial?’ And he said, ‘I’m the judge.’” King told about going into the courtroom where Simpson greeted him. Then saying he didn’t want to appear to favor one side over the other, King went to the prosecutors’ table and spoke to them.

Entertaining stuff. Except it never happened. I know, because I was there.

I can’t attest to the FAX signed “Lance”, but here’s what I do know, which I wrote about in Anatomy of a Trial:

“King’s assistant, Ellen Beard, called to say he was going to be in L.A. and still wanted to interview Ito or have him on his show, I knew the judge would decline. But … I thought he might consider thanking King in person for understanding his position and accommodating his requests, not just once, but twice.  First was when Ito declined to participate in a show about media complaints of restrictions in the case. King read Ito’s written statement on air, with no edits or omissions, about all he had done to accommodate the media. The second occasion was when King was the only TV talk or magazine show host who, at Ito’s request, delayed interviewing Nicole Brown Simpson’s self-described best friend Faye Resnick when her “tell-all” book came out on the eve of jury selection. So I offered to see if Ito would be willing to at least say hello to King.”

It was definitely a good intention that went south, which I included in my book “to illustrate how an event is seen, perceived, remembered and retold, particularly when hearsay forms the foundation.”

Here is how the entire visit went down:

“I accompanied King and his entourage of producer, staff assistant and college-student daughter, Chaia, from the elevator lobby through another courtroom, Department 105, and down the back hallway toward Ito’s chambers.

But instead of going in, King stood in the back doorway to the courtroom and waved to the press corps in the spectator seats.

With the help of Deputy Sheriff John Castro, who had accompanied us from the elevator, we finally steered everyone into Ito’s chambers. There, we waited for twenty minutes while court remained in session with King fidgeting impatiently, saying several times that his time was limited. When Ito took a break, rather than “rambling on about the case,” though, he spent most of the time listening to King name drop, boast about dating the defense team’s jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, and compare Ito’s modest chambers and small courtroom to the grandiose federal courthouse and judges’ accommodations in Miami. As Ito turned his attention to Chaia and asked about her education, King, started beckoning to the defense lawyers who had gathered in the chambers’ doorway to come in.

The lawyers flooded in with King glad-handing and back-slapping them like old friends. Instead, Toobin portrays King as being concerned about Ito’s time and quotes King directly when he writes in his book that King asks Ito, “‘Don’t you have to get back to court?’” Although I was standing directly behind the sofa where King was seated, I not only didn’t hear King utter those words, that didn’t even seem to be on his mind. In fact, Ito seemed to have slipped from his mind entirely as he continued to laugh and joke with the lawyers while Ito donned and snapped up his robe. Neither did the entourage follow Ito “through the rear door into the well of the courtroom,” as Toobin relates. Both Ito and I were trapped behind the gaggle of lawyers, King and King’s entourage as they squeezed through the cramped passage behind the clerk’s chair. Peering past their heads, I watched with horror as the lockup door opened, the bailiff escort Simpson into the courtroom and Cochran start to steer King toward the defendant to greet him. My repeated, “Please don’t do that,” finally got Cochran’s attention. Later Cochran told me I needn’t have worried, he would never have let them shake hands.

King, with his group following, proceeded into the courtroom well where King greeted the prosecution team. Then King’s daughter, who had followed him into the courtroom, drew a raised eyebrow and a “you don’t want to go in there!” from Simpson and a laugh from the spectators when she turned to leave and, with the help of her famous father, tried to pull open the wrong door—the one that led into the courtroom’s inmate lockup area.”

As I note on my website at www.anatomyofatrial.com, “…New Yorker writer/CNN legal analyst Jeffry Toobin shows why courts don’t–and shouldn’t–permit hearsay testimony. Pages 65-67”

Listening to King last night reminded me of how horrified I felt when I learned that that a TV series-in-the-making that is being promoted harder and more furiously than the recent Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing debacle is based on Toobin’s book.

Yep, my suggestion that Ito thank King in person was indeed a good intention that went south – a direction it continues to sink to to this day.

Ring, Ring, Beep, Beep. Who? Me?

Beepers and cell phones.

They never get the message.

More confiscation.

4/20/95

The Simpson trial judge, Lance Ito, did everything short of creating an international incident to keep beeping pagers and  ringing cell phones from disrupting proceedings. The trial attorneys were the worst offenders,  but members of the media followed closely behind. Here’s what I wrote in Anatomy of a Trial:

“A court order that prohibited talking, reading newspapers, chewing gum, eating or having audible cell phones and pagers on while court was in session was posted on the courtroom door. Copies were also taped to the rail separating the counsel area from spectators and to the back of each row of seats. They were hard to miss. Yet people continued to gab, chew, and grab their ringing cell phones and chirping pagers. Ito scolded from the bench and directed deputies to confiscate offending pagers and phones.”

When he had a device confiscated, he made the offender write him a letter of apology in order to get it back, which he usually did the next day. Back then, though, people’s careers didn’t depend on umbilical-cord connection to cellphones the way they do now.

Jury Inquest in a Haiku Three-Fer

Juror inquest starts.

Each one is to be questioned.

Is there misconduct?

4/17/95

 Who should listen in —

Allred and the defendant?

Juror matter closed.

4/18/95

Who will get to read

Transcripts of the inquiry?

Public’s right to know?

4/19/95

Early in the trial, Judge, Lance Ito said media issues consumed a third of his time. Within a couple of months after opening statements, so much stuff was going on with jurors, I noted in Anatomy of a Trial that “If media issues consumed a third of Ito’s time during the trial, jury problems took up another huge chunk.

“From secret note-taking for book deals to personality clashes, rebellions, illnesses, and psychological disorders, hardly a day went by from the time the jury was sequestered, on January 11, 1995, until it delivered the verdicts nearly nine moths later that Ito didn’t hold a closed session to solve one knotty juror problem or another. Jury issues became so squirrely, Ito wondered if what he called “stealth jurors” had made it onto the panel and were trying to sabotage the case.

“‘Every day there would be three things I’d never seen before in my judicial career,’ he said years after the trial. ‘I consulted with other judges and they hadn’t either.’,” I wrote in the opening paragraphs of the chapter on the jury and juror issues.

The reference to Allred in the 4/18/95 haiku was Gloria Allred, who was representing one or more of the murder victims’ relatives, who frequently surfaced in the wings of the trial. So many people lobbied to sit in on Ito’s interviews with jurors, I can’t even remember of defendant Simpson was one of them.

Let the Dysfunction Begin

Jurors are fighting.

“She kicked me!” “No I didn’t!”

They sound like lawyers.

4/10/95

By this time, the Simpson jurors had been sequestered for three months. So just how bad could having to live in a luxury hotel have been? Despite many amenities and considerations, the fact was they were essentially locked up. They had been 20-some strangers before they found themselves existing in lockstep with each other, being watched over, herded about and literally spied upon by sheriff’s deputies. They were not allowed normal contact or communication with their own family members, to watch or listen to TV or radio, read newspapers that didn’t have huge holes cut in them (stories related to the case, the defendant and the trial had been cut out), or go shopping, to movies,  or even restaurants except as a group.  Then they had nothing to do day after endless day except endure a marathon of squabbling among supposedly grown-up professionals who were supposed to be proving to them whether on not someone had committed the most heinous crime against what had been two living, loving and loved fellow human beings, but instead sounded like throwbacks themselves to their own “No I didn’t! Yes you did!” childhood days.

Mid-April really wasn’t the beginning of dysfunction among the Simpson jurors as many had already shown signs of the strain by then, but by mid-April it had certainly become serious, despite almost heroic behind-the-scenes efforts of trial judge Lance Ito to ease the strain and make their existence more tolerable.

Close Quarters Contaminate

Three jurors fall ill.

The flu has taken a toll.

Proceedings halted.

4/6/95

Having been sequestered for more than three months at this point,  Simpson jurors were beginning to feel–and show–the strain. Two had been excused at this point (and both had books out before a year had elapsed). Of the jurors down with the flu in early April, one was sick enough be be hospitalized and on IV fluids, according to my notes. During their absence, yet another juror got kicked off the case. And this was just the beginning of the juror troubles.