By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Last week, as Judge Dale Fischer ruled with sudden finality in the Anthony Pellicano racketeering case by lowering the hammer on three of the Hollywood private eye’s convicted co-defendants, there were no photographers lingering in the hall, no sketch artists scraping away on pads in the courtroom. None of the curious law students, legal clerks or ambitious young prosecutors who’d stopped by the Roybal Federal Building’s Room 840 during last year’s trial were around this time to witness the sentencing and handcuffing that each man received. Last Tuesday meant the end of the world for some of those gathered in Fischer’s courtroom. Even for those who thoroughly believed in the guilt of Pellicano and his crew, it was not the easiest thing to watch the defendants’ family and friends’ crestfallen reactions when the sentences were announced.
“This sentence is ridiculous,” said one court spectator, when the judge handed down a sentence of 121 months for defendant Ray Turner.
The visitor was no casual court gawker but Elaine Jordison, the woman known during Pellicano’s 2008 RICO trial as Juror No. 7. Back on the May afternoon when Pellicano and his co-defendants were found guilty, Jordison shared with L.A. Weekly her thoughts about the trial, expressing a surprising sympathy for Pellicano and his family, while complaining of a jury-deliberation process that she believed was tilted against acquittal verdicts. In fact, following the 2008 trial, Jordison took the unusual step of contacting the defense lawyers to air charges of juror misconduct. She claimed several jurors had openly expressed their beliefs in the defendants’ guilt and that she herself was the target of intimidation by her co-panelists. Her allegations eventually found their way into a letter asking Judge Fischer to show leniency toward the five men, and at this week’s sentencings Jordison was seen hugging the defendants and consoling their family members — she wept as Judge Fischer read out the prison time for each man.
During breaks between sentencings, Jordison again expressed her unhappiness with the jury panel on which she served.
“There were three jurors,” she told L.A. Weekly, “who could’ve gone either way — they just didn’t care.”
Perhaps worse, said Jordison, who at the time lived more than 200 miles away in San Luis Obispo County, the juror to whom she gave a ride home in Thousand Oaks at the end of each week had made up her mind for guilt by the second week. Did Jordison, though, ever feel she needed to remind her carpooling colleague to keep an open mind?
“No, I just kept quiet,” she admitted.
Likewise, she went along and voted for guilty verdicts even though she now claims she didn’t believe in the defendants’ guilt.
“The foreperson told me we had to find them guilty, it was the law, and I went along.”
Jordison said she didn’t realize that when jurors were individually polled following the reading of the May verdicts to a packed courtroom, she then had the chance to tell the judge she disagreed with the verdicts.
“I had tried to tell the judge during the trial but was told to keep quiet,” she said of the deliberations. “Afterward, some of us went up to Ray Turner and told him, ‘We know you didn’t do the wiretaps.’”
Jordison blamed her panel’s lack of balanced, civil dialogue on its foreperson.
“The foreperson didn’t preside over anything,” Jordison says. “She turned her back to us. One man got mad at me and threw a chair. There was so much juror misconduct.”
(In her May 2008 interview with the Weekly, Jordison spoke of a cordial atmosphere in the jury room, though this past Tuesday she denied saying this.)
During these most recent proceedings and at Pellicano’s own sentencing hearing last December, co-prosecutor Daniel Saunders made it plain that he didn’t think “a juror’s second thoughts about the verdict” should have any mitigating impact on the prison time the defendants received.
“I’m tired of Dan Saunders getting up and singling me out,” Jordison said last week. “I think he’s a joke.”
Nearly a week later in Judge Fischer’s courtroom, another Pellicano co-defendant went down.
“I’m not a warm fuzzy type,” Judge Fischer told Kevin Kachikian at his sentencing on Monday. As an understatement, the icy jurist’s comment ranks just below “Houston, we have a problem.” But there was no need to point this out to Kachikian — he knew all about it.
Last year he was one of five men, including Pellicano, who stood trial in the racketeering and wiretapping extravaganza that played out in Fischer’s courtroom. As in any caper movie, each man had brought a specific skill to the party. Pellicano was the tough-talking detective at home as both a Hollywood fixeur and law-enforcement helper. Mark Arneson was the cop who provided DMV and criminal-database info to Pellicano, while Turner was the hands-on technician who installed the wiring necessary for Pellicano to eavesdrop on his targets’ phone conversations for clients like Abner Nicherie, who’d hired him to illegally tap the calls of business rivals.
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