Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Have to go to a line-up at Men’s Central Jail the other night. They got a big room set up for this. It’s actually a theater in the jail. An Equity Waiver house of about 100 seats. Its got an elevated stage and a glass partition running through the stage like a curtain. This separates the “actors” (the six inmates, all black, all short hair, all about 5’8”) from the “audience” (the cops, the attorney [me], and the witness for whom this entire production has been set up.)
I wonder how they get these actors. Do they request volunteers? Somehow I doubt it – who would volunteer for the chance to be identified in a lineup for some crime you may not know anything about? Of course all the actors are in jail for something. Maybe they do volunteer out of boredom. Nah.
The room is all very 40’s. There’s the photographer for the Sheriff’s Dept. with the huge camera to document; there’s a set of Flash Gordon dials, round & circular, on a side wall to manage the lights inside the actors side of the partition. When the lights are turned on inside the partition you can see the actors very clearly but they cannot see into the audience. (at least that’s what the “Emcee”– a plainclothes Deputy Sheriff repeatedly tells the witness, a black man wearing a baseball cap.) “They can’t see you, they can’t hear you.” I believe the sound proofing claim cause the photographer had to shout to the Deputy inside to acknowledge that he was done shooting the scene.
The Emcee comes over to me and asks me if I know which one of the six guys is my client. I said “no”. I’d seen my client twice before, briefly, in court. But I wouldn’t be able to pick him out. The Emcee holds up two fingers. It takes me a second to realize he’s giving me the number my guy’s wearing on the front of his jailhouse blues in the lineup. “Oh” I nod that I understand.
They really put those actors through their paces. They got to stand forward, turn around, walk to each side of the stage, sit down, look sideways, turn themselves completely around, turn to one side and then to the other. It’s a whole production. Its amazing how good they are. They respond to the Emcee’s barked instructions like they had rehearsed this show for weeks.
Finally they ask the wit to pick the guy. He shakes his head and throws his hands up. He doesn’t pick anybody. The actors leave the stage through a back exit. And then the audience goes home.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I’m in a rape trial – titanic forces of evil and good crashing against each other.
What’s the Climax of this Cosmic Confrontation for me?
I call a witness and I project a map of southern California onto the big screen for the jury. There’s an issue about the route the alleged victim took to get to Los Angeles where she was allegedly brutally raped by my client. You don’t want to know the details, trust me. I pull out my LASER PEN - I’ve been waiting to do this ever since I got the pen few weeks ago from another lawyer during another trial. But I didn’t have occasion to use it until now, 3 weeks into this trial.
I’m pointing on the map with MY LASER trying to locate Temecula, California and all of a sudden there’s another beam on the map – this beam is coming from the direction of the bench – the Judge.
HIS HONOR has whipped out HIS LASER PEN and he’s pointing it right on Temecula – “thank you your honor”, I say. I’m hoping he’ll back off but no he keeps it right on the map going to all the other cities we’re talking about – San Clemente, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernadino. I’m thinking what am I gonna do? Could I say “Your honor could you just let me use my goddamn LASER?." No, I couldn't.
I diplomatically with reluctance withdraw my LASER. The judge finishes up MY PRESENTATION with HIS LASER.
What can you do?
Friday, September 19, 2008
I'm sitting in Long Beach waiting for my case to be called. I've been there since 830am- it's 1030am already. I'm there to set a preliminary hearing for a new case - a little homicide. There are two defendants - it would've been zip zip but the attorney for the other guy hasn't showed up. The DA got tired of waiting and went back to her office. I'm calling this lawyer and calling him - I'm calling and he's not coming. There's nothing I can do until he comes. Then this guy sits down next to me in front of "the bar". I've seen him around for years. Never had a conversation with him. He's got a pony tail and I'm prejudiced. We start talking about this DA dying. "We're dropping like flies" he says. I agree. Then he says how he goes to a court sometimes where's he's been going for 30 years and nobody knows him and he doesn't know anybody. I empathize. And then he said "but you know - this is still the best gig in the world isn't it?" "Yeah it is." I agreed.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Figure in Rosenberg Case Admits to Soviet Spying
By SAM ROBERTS
Published: September 11, 2008
In 1951, Morton Sobell was tried and convicted with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on espionage charges. He served more than 18 years in Alcatraz and other federal prisons, traveled to Cuba and Vietnam after his release in 1969 and became an advocate for progressive causes.
Through it all, he maintained his innocence.
But on Thursday, Mr. Sobell, 91, dramatically reversed himself, shedding new light on a case that still fans smoldering political passions. In an interview, he admitted for the first time that he had been a Soviet spy.
(NEW YORK TIMES)
What pisses me off about this guy isn't that he was a Soviet spy - it isn't that he's lied for all these years about being a spy - -organized protest groups (I think I may have participated in some demonstrations to "free Sobell") - even when he got out of prison he went on a lecture circuit proclaiming his and Julius Rosenberg's innocence - what gets me is that he writes a book and about 3/4's of it is about how it was his lawyers and the Rosenbergs' lawyers who screwed up. Never mind that he was caught redhanded - never mind the evidence - including his flight to Mexico under a phony name when Julius Rosenberg was arrested, (he has the chutzpah to claim that he skipped out because he felt the political climate was "getting bad"). No, it was his two lawyers and the Rosenbergs' lawyers who fucked up and caused their convictions. That's what Sobell writes. And when you get down into the details of what this guy has to say it's remarkably similar to the complaints I get everyday from many of my clients. Oh if only I had handled their case differently. I know I'm taking this very personally and it's not personal. But what a piece of shit this guy is.
Friday, September 12, 2008
OMG I’m sent out for trial downtown to begin my 7 count forcible rape re-trial. That’s ok but I have a preliminary hearing set the next day in Long Beach. It’s been postponed a few times. And I’ve got another trial set the next week (14 counts of robbery) also in Long Beach. The Judge wants to see me. The DA wants to see me. There I am surrounded by the Judge, the 2 DA’s – the one on the preliminary hearing and the one on the robbery trials. They’re “frustrated”. They’re “upset”. They’re “pissed off”. At ME! Cause “YOU GOT YOURSELF ENGAGED!” (for you non criminal attorneys “being engaged” has nothing to do with marriage or sex. [well, maybe] It means that you can only do one thing at a time. If you’re in a trial well you’re not going to be able to do a preliminary hearing or another trial. That’s what it means. I’m a trial lawyer – I go to trials when some judge tells me I’m going. That’s it. But there I am in Long Beach being accused of “GETTING MYSELF ENGAGED!” That’s exactly what the DA’s say. “Mr. Meyer continues to get himself engaged!” They’re beside themselves with anger. You’d think I’d done all the rapes, carjackings, and kidnappings. Okay so their schedules had to be changed. They work me over good. By the time I slink out of there I am so relieved that I’m still in one piece and not in jail myself, I’m actually really looking forward to the relaxation of fighting my forcible rape trial.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
When a win is a win – oh how I wish I could have that look on a win. It’s got to be someone you know is innocent. What are the chances of that? That’s a lot of pressure on a person. And then you gotta, gotta, get the not guilty verdict. Then you can have the same look of shock, relief, gratitude as Johnny Cochrane. Except I could never get myself to believe that Johnny thought OJ was innocent. Maybe he did? I just got a hung jury on a murder & attempted murder, unfortunately the jury found my client guilty on another murder. So I didn't have the same look as Johnny had after his verdict.
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