Is It The Odd Couple or The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant?
“You have no idea how lucky you are out here – it’s torture!” Celebrity lawyer Robert Shapiro gave this assurance today to two U.S. Marshals sitting outside Judge Dale Fischer’s courtroom – where, inside, Anthony Pellicano was subjecting a witness to some verbal water-boarding. So far Pellicano II testimony has moved at a geological pace. This federal trial presents a kind of Odd Couple pairing (or is it The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant?), in which the bare-knuckled private eye Pellicano is a co-defendant with super-smooth litigation attorney Terry Christensen. The two men are accused of wiretapping and conspiracy in support of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s toxic child-custody fight with ex-wife Lisa Bonder in 2002.
Shapiro and other defense lawyers connected to Christensen or his actual law firm seemed perplexed by what the rest of us – judge, prosecutors and media alike — had come to take for granted during Pellicano’s first trial, which ended in May with Pellicano’s 76 guilty verdicts. Over and over Tuesday did Pellicano, acting again as his own attorney, split hairs and infinitives with government witness Jeffrey Edwards, a software engineer, during Pellicano’s cross-examination about the computer source code of his Telesleuth wiretapping program. Christensen attorneys Patty Glaser and Terree Bowers looked stunned as they became familiar with Pellicano’s Jesuitical interrogation techniques – Glaser’s eyes glazed, Bowers bowed and Christensen became Christlike in his martyr’s acceptance of Pellicano’s tedious questioning.
Although the trial’s first day brought in many local reporters as well as writers for New York papers and the wires, the media now have all but completely decamped this scene of deadening repetition. An exception is the Daily Journal’s Robert Iafolla, who is often the only media presence in court. One thing the first trial had going for it were its tawdry moments of unpredictable salaciousness. With Pellicano II, however, both sides seem dedicated to ironing out any excitement of the crime narrative. In some ways the current trial is like the same movie as shot by two different directors, as when Paul Schrader and Renny Harlin both made versions of The Exorcist a few years ago. But perhaps that’s giving this trial too much credit – the DJ’s Iafolla likens Pellicano I and IIto what he calls “the two Darrins,” à la Bewitched.
Tomorrow things should perk up a bit with the appearance of the voluptuous Web figure Tarita Virtue, as well as Stephen Kolodny — Lisa Bonder’s lawyer during her no-holds-barred fight with Kirk Kerkorian. And, if we’re lucky – or awake – we’ll also hear the first of the six and a half hours of phone conversations between Pellicano and Christensen, which allegedly were secretly recorded by Pellicano.
During her opening trial statement, Patty Glaser, clearly familiar with those conversations, warned jurors of the salty badinage they’d be hearing once these recordings were played back.
“You’re going to hear coarse language,” Glaser said, “that maybe you and I wouldn’t use.” This comment could be both trial’s most far-fetched declaration and its biggest understatement.