Tag Archives: Tehran

Forrest Gumpish Me

I felt so Gumpish yesterday.

The Milwaukee Green Sheet “Blasts from the Past” had an item from 1979 about Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini receiving “a tumultuous welcome in Tehran as he ended nearly 15 years of exile.” My children and I had just been evacuated from Tehran the month before with what we could carry in a few suitcases as the Islamic Revolution became chaotic in Iran, and my husband was still there with no indication that he was going to get out.

An interview on NPR with TV critic Eric Deggens about “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” miniseries scheduled to debut on FX last night included mention of the Rodney King-beating trial verdicts and resulting L.A. riots threw me back to all of those events.

When Rodney King was stopped by law enforcement for a malfunctioning taillight and beaten, I was city editor at the Pasadena Star News with a coverage area that included King’s hometown of Altadena. I had moved to my position as Los Angeles courts public information officer just three months before four L.A.P.D. officers stood trial for beating King. That trial was a real baptism by fire! But not nearly as hot as the subsequent riots during which I was one of the few people to keep showing up for work every day at the downtown County Courthouse.

And, of course, the accusation and subsequent trial of O.J. Simpson for murdering his ex-wife practically consumed my life for more than a year and a half in 1994 and 1995, which is now the foundation of the TV drama “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

I have to say the Simpson case practically consumed my life, because sandwiched between court sessions, dealing with related media issues and meeting with the trial judge, Lance Ito, were the Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss case and preparations for the Menendez brothers retrial.

Feeling Gumpish comes over me at other times of the year, too, such as during the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, in which I drove a float one year and… and…

Oh, well, that’s enough for now. Sorry to get carried away.



Will Iran Reforms and Reformer Last?

Media access and government transparency is vital to a country’s people, I believe.

So this reported turn of events in Iran is not only a positive one, but is of great personal interest to me, given that I was living in Tehran when the curtain rose on  the Islamic Revolution in that country and, in fact, was evacuated with my three children because of it.

Iran’s president-elect calls for new media freedoms


My Iranian experience provided the epiphany that launched my journalism career, which led to my work with the Los Angeles Superior Court and ultimately resulted in the publication of Anatomy of a Trial, which is now available in e-format.

As I read this story about Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rohani, which includes this quote, “A strong government does not mean a government that interferes and intervenes in all affairs. It is not a government that limits the lives of people. This is not a strong government.” and knowing the iron jaws in which Islamic clergy gripped Iranians ever since that revolution, I will watch with great interest to see if Mr. Rohani remains in office and if his reforms endure.


The Great Leap from Iran to O.J. Simpson

I wrote an essay about a former life — an Air Force wife with my family in Tehran, Iran, in 1978-79.

The essay was about memories the movie “Argo” evoked of our being in that country in the early stages of the Islamic Revolution and being evacuated with little more than the clothes we wore.

The essay is scheduled to air on Milwaukee’s public radio station, WUWM 89-7 FM, Saturday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m. and again the next day– Sunday, Feb. 24– at the same time, on the station’s “Lake Effect” program. It will also be streamed online at www.wuwm.com (click on the red “Listen” button).

That experience triggered an epiphany that led me into the world of journalism in which I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 12 years before segueing to Los Angeles Superior Court when I spent another decade as court information officer and media liaison.

Those years were replete with high-profile trials, the first, the Rodney King-beating trial, opening two months after I joined the court. That was followed by the Menendez brothers I & II (the first ending in hung juries), Heidi Fleiss, O.J.Simpson and many more not quite as notorious.

Who would have ever thought that being evacuated from revolution-ruptured Iran would have led to me writing a book about the impact media coverage of a has-been star athlete’s trial on murder charges! Maybe I’ll come up with an essay about that.

One-degree of separation: Iran, Jackson, Brown, the Red Line

Six degrees of separation to recent news events seems closer to 1 for me.

Riding on the Metro Red Line in D.C. just a couple of weeks ago.

Living in Tehran 30 years ago, walking and driving on some of the streets filled with post June 2009-election demonstrators.

Working for Los Angeles Court on celebrity-domestic violence case a la Chris Brown. Only the most explosive domestic-violence-related case was Simpson 15 years ago.

And Michael Jackson. I consulted on his child-molestation trial in Santa Barbara and was media liaison for L.A. Superior Court during the 1993 child-molestation lawsuit filed against him that ended in a settlement for the plaintiff.

The 1993 lawsuit filed against him on behalf of a young teen who claimed Jackson had molested him was settled after a hearing in Santa Monica for a reported $20 million.  The crowd that gathered at the Santa Monica courthouse for the 1993 proceeding dwarfed those that swarmed the Simi Valley courthouse for the Rodney King-beating trial little over a year earlier and presaged those that descended on the northern Santa Barbara County courthouse in Santa Maria 12 years later.

 A year or so after Simpson’s ’95 trial, a Santa Barbara County judge asked me to help him prepare for a civil trial he was presiding over in which Jackson had been sued. Little to no public interest in that case, primarily because Jackson wasn’t required to be present like he was his 2005 criminal trial.

By the time the criminal charges were filed, I had left the Los Angeles court and was living here in South Milwaukee. My consulting on that trial involved a couple of trips to the Santa Maria courthouse. I discussed the pros and cons of courtroom camera coverage and other media-related issues with the judge, was in the courthouse entrance as Jackson arrived for a pretrial hearing, sat in the courtroom a few feet away from him during that and other proceedings, watched the estimated 2,000 fans scream in adulation at him and press against a chainlink fence security had put up to hold them back as Jackson entered and left. I watched him walk out to the street in front of the courthouse, jump up on top of his SUV parked out there where he waved to and danced for his fans.

An Associated Press-reporter friend who covered the Jackson, Simpson and countless other celebrity and high-profile trials emailed me about being in shock over Jackson’s death. I think she was one of the few reporters, if not the only one to be invited into Jackson’s Neverland ranch in northern Santa Barbara County while Jackson still lived there.  I heard her interviewed Saturday on NPR about Jackson. She included information about his three children I’d never heard before.

His fame is certainly transcends generations. Seven- and 8-year-old boys at a parks-and-recreaction department track and field day near my house on Friday excitedly related the news about Michael Jackson’s death as if they had just heard it. Then they got into a debate about the exact time he died. Then it was time for their next event — the soccer-ball kick.

Sometimes I think I should write a book.


Tehran Diary

Hard to keep my mind on “Anatomy of a Trial” with all the turmoil in Iran. Given that I lived there 30 years ago during the run up to and beginning of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, I’m glued to the news of the current events. One thing I did do was dig out my story “Tehran Diary” which was the cover story of the April 1979 issue of The Times Magazine. Here’s the URL for anyone who’s interested in reading it:  http://www.anatomyofatrial.com/pages/documents/TehranDiary0001_000.pdf