By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Weinberg hammered home the point (if indeed it was a point) that it was only later police summaries of interviews with De Souza that present him as saying he found Clarkson’s body slumped in a chair in the foyer of Spector’s home — when he was directly quoted in the police report as saying he discovered Clarkson lying on the floor. By the close of morning testimony, all the beleaguered Tomlin could do was say that in his experience, “people in the Hispanic culture” often use the words “ground” or “floor” when they mean to describe sitting positions.
With this hairsplitting finished for the morning — and revelations that the trial will last a few more weeks before it goes to the jury — Dunne said goodbye to Clarkson’s family and left. He would not be coming back.
For more than a month now, there’s been courthouse buzz about a development brewing in the completed trial of fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander, who was convicted last November of 15 counts of sexual abuse and one count of rape. The word was that lawyers for Anand Jon, as he is known professionally, would bring startling new evidence to his January 13 sentencing hearing that would warrant a new trial. But that date came and went, with nothing more than an agreement from both sides to reconvene in Judge David Wesley’s courtroom February 27.
Last week, however, with Jon appearing in court wearing an orange prison jump suit, reporters got a glimpse of the new evidence, and it is indeed dramatic. Although the defense motions are currently sealed, along with the lips of attorneys and prosecutors alike, some details emerged in court and were later amplified during a defense news conference held outdoors. Jon’s defense is basing its request for a new trial on two foundations.
The first is a bizarre incident that occurred when the trial was, as new defense lawyer Ronald Richards put it, “a live situation during deliberations.” This involved an attempt by Juror No. 12 to speak to Anand Jon’s sister, Sanjana, during verdict deliberations. The man, about whom the original jury’s foreman had complained to Judge Wesley because of his unwillingness to deliberate, contacted Sanjana during this time and requested to speak to her. She agreed to meet him at a Starbucks. Since Sanjana Jon was neither a witness nor a member of the defense team, she was free to speak to the juror without informing the court — although her brother’s lawyers immediately told the judge once they learned of the meeting.
Jon’s lawyers also claim they informed the prosecution team of Mara McIlvain and Frances Young of their intention to carry out a “sting” by secretly wiring Sanjana in order to record what was on No. 12’s mind. They never got the chance — District Attorney’s investigators intercepted the juror just as he was about to enter the coffee shop and prevented him from meeting Sanjana Jon.
“But for the District Attorney’s blocking the door to justice” — this would be the door to Starbucks — “we would have found out why the juror contacted Sanjana,” Richards said at the news conference.
Jon’s lawyers don’t merely want to learn what No. 12 wanted, they are also asking, through interviews and e-mail records, to find out who in the D.A.’s Office authorized the interception. If the names extend high enough to disqualify the entire office from prosecuting a new trial, Richards said, the case would be tried by the state Attorney General’s Office. That event is by no means certain, though, and Judge Wesley has set April 1 as the next hearing date. In the meantime, the defense team will try to persuade the juror to be interviewed by its members. Eventually, it seems, No. 12 will have to appear once before Judge Wesley in open court — either on April 1 or at a later date.
One question that needs to be clarified for the public is whether or not the juror’s conduct was brought to Judge Wesley’s attention at the time it occurred, and, if it was, why the judge didn’t feel the deliberations were compromised by the incident.
“If it happened during deliberations,” says USC law professor Rosenbluth, a former federal prosecutor, “it would have been unheard of for the court not to know — and for the judge not to have questioned the juror. Either the juror did something wrong or he didn’t. The judge must have thought nothing bad had happened because he let deliberations go on.”
The defense’s second grounds for a new trial were what it called “prosecutorial misconduct.” Jon’s attorneys claim that during the trial, prosecutors twice threatened a member of their team, Eric Chase — once with arrest and, at another point, with disbarment. The defense contends that the alleged threats were acts of intimidation that subdued Chase’s aggressiveness during cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.