Saturday, March 04, 2006

And Now, The Final Installment of Hoff Goes to Court

9:55 a.m. Arrive outside of courtroom. The gang's all here, for our 10:00 start.

10:30 a.m. WTC bailiff lets us into the courtroom. I ask if she missed me. She said yes. You have no idea how smooth I am with the white trash chicks!

10:35 a.m. Back to the witnesses. One normal person and 4 San Diego PD Detectives.

10:55 a.m. Prosecution rests.

10:56 a.m. Defense rests. We all feel sorry for the defense counsel, because she's been dealt a shit sandwich. Public Defender's office assigned her to a case that had a mountain of circumstantial evidence against a defendent who must have been related to Hellmuth or Matusow based on his several outbursts and meltdowns. She presented no arguments, because there really weren't any she could.

10:57 a.m. Closing statement by prosecution. Basic recap. The defendent's a creep, yadda yadda yadda.

11:25 a.m. Closing statement by defense. She's trying to come up with something, but there's very little she can do. Think of it as she's all in and only has a chance to split a side pot.

11:35 a.m. Judge and attorneys go into sidebar.

11:55 a.m. We break for lunch. We walk outside and step into a freaking media circus. Former San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is being sentenced for his extreme bribery conviction. Final tally. 8 years, 4 months, 12 satellite trucks, 20 other vehicles with media identification, and about 15 San Diego PD and San Diego County Sheriff vehicles for security and crowd control. Surprisingly, Quizno's a block away is nearly empty. They must have been speaking at that point, so lunch was quick.

1:20 p.m. Walking down the hallway with Juror #1. Behind me, I hear "are those my jurors blocking the hallway?" I feel a hand on my back and turn to see WTC bailiff smiling at me. Damn, left phone in briefcase. Gotta find a way to sneak a pic.

1:35 p.m. Reenter courtroom. Judge lays out jury instructions. She gives us the definitions of the charges, the various statutes, procedural stuff, and sends us to the deliberating room.

1:45 p.m. Straw poll. Count 1, 10 guilty, 2 not guilty. Count 2, 12 guilty. County 3, 6 guilty, 6 not guilty. Count 4 (which is an alternate count to Counts 2 and 3, an "either or" situation) 11 guilty, 1 not guilty. Lots of deliberation, lots of discussion. Watch security video again. Look over exhibit photos. One guy is being a hold out, for a harsher conviction. Back and forth.

3:45 p.m. Question to the judge (side note, WTC bailiff has gone off duty, no pic, sigh).

4:02 p.m. Judge sends reply. We are in agreement on the first two counts, split 6-6 on count 3, and 11 to 1 on count 4. Stubborn guy keeps throwing out a bunch of (admittedly valid) emotional arguments, but they don't relate to the evidence in the case. End of day for jurors is typically 4:30...we don't want to come back on Monday.

4:20 p.m. We notify judge we've reached a verdict.

4:35 p.m. We go back to court. Bonus. Defendent is present. Will we see a meltdown?

4:40 p.m. Judge says that our verdicts show inconsistencies. Back to the deliberation room.

4:42 p.m. Not one of us sees the inconsistency she's talking about.

4:43 p.m. Send note to judge asking if the inconsistency is that we need to make a separate special finding on count 4 relating to count 1.

4:50 p.m. Judge comes to deliberation room with both attorneys. Our guess was correct. We tell her that we've reached a correct verdict.

5:00 p.m. (needed to get the bailiff) We wander back to the courtroom.

5:05 p.m. Verdict is read. Clerk records the verdict. Attorneys ask a few questions. No meltdown, but there are 3 bailiffs ready to club the guy into submission if needed.

5:20 p.m. Free at last! Free at last!!!

To sum up the case (now that I can), the defendent was accused of stealing a laptop out of a hotel room at the Hyatt La Jolla where a conference was going on, on a Monday in October. On that Tuesday, he called a computer store to "get the password wiped off of this Powerbook G4 he bought on eBay." Later Tuesday, security cameras caught him stealing one of the conference staff's laptop bag and purse at the same hotel, same conference. Less than 2 hours later, he was captured on video at the Nordstrom's less than a mile from the hotel buying stuff with stolen credit cards. The first purchase went thru, but the second one came back voided, and he bolted. Wednesday, he was accused of taking another laptop bag from a conference at the La Jolla Marriott, one block away from the Hyatt. That Friday, he showed up at the computer store, approx. 5 miles from the hotels (which coincidentally are approximately a mile from Casa De Hoff), with the Powerbook so he can get the password wiped. Fortunately, this set off alarms to the store reps. They got into the computer and found the owner's info and called him. He confirmed the theft and they called SDPD. He was picked up at the store, and most of the stolen items were found in the back of his SUV. Count 1 was the residential burglary of the Powerbook, and even though there was no evidence he'd been in the room, the call to the computer store shrunk the timeline enough that we were convinced. Count 2 (grand theft) was a no-brainer. Count 3 was the Marriott grand theft. There was no evidence showing he'd been there, no videos, no witnesses. We hung 6-6 on that one. Those were the only outs he had, and sure as hell they held up. Count 4 was "receiving stolen goods". The one hang up guy here was so convinced he'd stolen the laptop from the Marriott that there was no way he thought the guy had received stolen goods. He finally bowed to the reality that there wasn't enough evidence on count 3 that he could vote for count 4.

I've done my duty, and now I get three years off before they call my name again. I am not looking forward to the crap load of work that's waiting for me, though. Oh well. That's the price of justice. I just need to figure out how to get downtown one more time to see if I can get a pic of WTC bailiff for all of you.


drewspop said...

Hopefully the pic will involve Jello somehow?

iamhoff said...

I'll see what I can arrange...

MusikMom said...

Wow! A lot has happened! (I must have been really out of it this week.) I've never had the fortune of participation is this highly coveted public duty.
I'm now curious as to what a "cute WTC" looks like. I'm a "SHF" (short Hispanic female" but my tall, bald Irish man seems to dig! Take care!

Mon :-)

P.S. - I was so excited to see that your sis was still alive! I had a long comment to her post.