Today was the day convicted fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander's defense presented to Judge David Wesley its case for a new trial. There is much at stake: The original proceedings resulted in Anand Jon, as the designer is known professionally, being convicted of 15 sexual assault charges and one count of rape - for which he could spend a minimum of 67 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Although the jury's verdict seemed to announce an unambiguous belief in Jon's guilt, there's been a fly in the ointment in the form of a rogue juror who is accused of having contacted Jon's sister, Sanjana, both during jury deliberations and afterward. If true, this could provide grounds for the defense's charge of jury contamination.
Alvin Dymally was Juror No. 12 and this morning he endured a long and rocky direct examination by lead defense attorney Leonard Levine. Present were Harlan Braun, who recently became Sanjana Alexander's counsel, Richard Doyle of the District Attorney's special prosecutions division and, drifting in from the Phil Spector sentencing that had just concluded down the hall, Deputy D.A. Pat Dixon.
Levine should have brought his eel-wrestling gloves with him, because time after time Dymally, who fidgeted in the witness stand, wearing blue jeans and a cream-colored short-sleeved shirt, refused to be pinned down on the simplest facts. Dymally's defense weapons were his reflexive denials of being able to remember anything that has occurred over the last seven months, and a somewhat patronizing way of answering questions, invariably beginning with the words, "Mr. Levine" -- exhaled in the patient manner of a driving school instructor or of someone addressing an especially slow child. Levine tried to get Dymally to answer the key question of when he was in touch with Sanjana and who initiated a January 7, 2009 meeting between the two at a Starbucks.
Levine: Who arranged that meeting?
Dymally: Mr. Levine, I cannot remember.
Levine: You don't know who arranged the meeting?
Dymally: You know, Mr. Levine, I can't fully remember.
Levine: Did she initiate the meeting or did you?
Dymally: I'll put it this way: I don't remember.
Hoping to get Dymally to admit he'd he'd received an October 27, 2008 phone call from Sanjana, Levine showed Juror No. 12 a phone bill indicating two calls made from her phone to his cell phone number lasting more than two minutes apiece on that date. But Dymally was here to play dodge ball and again proved to be an elusive target, telling Levine he didn't know if he was at home on the night in question, nor if he had even had his cell phone with him. Levine was incredulous and asked that, wouldn't he, Dymally, at least know if he'd had a phone with him on a given night?
Dymally: You know, Mr. Levine, it depends, it really does.
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Levine: On what?
Dymally: I could've gone jogging -- although I know it was at night. Something unusual could have happened. Let me put it to you this way, by asking you if you would remember who you talked to that night?
Levine: I would if a juror called me during the trial, you bet I would.
It was going to be a long morning.