Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Simpson Team Given Right to Police Papers : Trial: Ito orders volumes of records and photos on activity at the beginning of the case turned over to the defense.

October 05, 1994|ANDREA FORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeking to end a running battle in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito has ordered police and prosecutors to turn over to the defense volumes of paperwork detailing police activity at the outset of the double murder case, according to court papers released Tuesday.

Among the items to be given to defense lawyers are photographs of the shoes that law enforcement workers wore at the murder scene, where bloody shoe prints were found. The defense also wants results of any preliminary blood tests done on the shoes of investigators and others who were there.

In addition, the judge ordered prosecutors to provide reports from Detective Mark Fuhrman about a 1985 incident in which Fuhrman went to the Simpson home to investigate a domestic disturbance call.

Simpson has pleaded not guilty to the June 12 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman, and is being held without bail.

He is expected to be in court today for a proceeding at which Ito will hear arguments about which pieces of evidence will be allowed in court.

At that hearing, Ito, who has exhibited increasing impatience with the news media, also will hear defense arguments contending that the judge should question police and members of the prosecution team to determine if they are the source of news leaks.

Leaked stories--some of them false--prompted Ito on Monday to schedule a Nov. 7 hearing that could result in a ban on the Court TV camera that during pretrial hearings made live film available to the scores of television news operations that are covering the case.

As media organizations gear up to fight a possible television ban, the Los Angeles Daily News filed court papers Tuesday protesting a decision by Ito to bar the paper from his courtroom during the Simpson trial. The order apparently is in response to the paper's publication of a story based on a blank jury questionnaire obtained before the judge officially released the document.

Court spokeswoman Jerrianne Hayslett confirmed that Ito has said the San Fernando Valley-based newspaper will get no permanent seat in the courtroom once seating arrangements for the trial are made and that it will not be on a list of news organizations that will share seats on a rotating basis.

Ron Kaye, managing editor of the Daily News, would not comment, saying the court papers speak for themselves.

In its filing, the Daily News asserts that it lawfully obtained the questionnaire, did nothing illegal in the process and is unaware that anyone stole the document.

Because it did not harm Simpson's rights, the paper contends, "there is no basis in law or fact for a punitive order barring one reporter from access to parts of the case."

Kelli Sager, a media lawyer who has represented The Times on 1st Amendment issues, said that if the Daily News is right about how it obtained the document, the law is on its side.

"It certainly is true that under the law a news organization cannot be punished for receiving information as long as they didn't do anything illegal in getting it," she said.

Ito, in an interview Monday, said that because he had not publicly released the blank questionnaire, he considered the Daily News' possession of it a felony theft of a court document.

The Daily News complaint is scheduled to be heard Nov. 7, when Ito also will hear arguments about his proposed ban on the Court TV camera.

The judge's clerk on Tuesday said letters favoring such a ban are pouring into Ito's chamber.

The clerk, Deirdre Robertson, said the letters were prompted by a piece by Mike Royko, the Chicago-based syndicated newspaper columnist, who urged his readers to send the judge their thoughts on a camera ban.

"I've gone through about 1,000 (letters) and about 90% are about (the proposed ban)," Robertson said. Of those, most favor throwing out the television camera.

In another development Tuesday, it was disclosed that Ito has scheduled an Oct. 14 hearing to determine whether items from Simpson's Ford Bronco should be disallowed as evidence on the grounds that once police seized the vehicle, they left it unattended at a tow yard, where it was burglarized by an employee of the yard and suffered unaccounted-for damage.

The vehicle was towed from outside Simpson's home the day after the murders after police found what they thought was a blood droplet on a door handle and a smear of blood on the door.

The burglary of the Bronco occurred two days later and was not reported for 26 days, according to court papers. As a result of the incident, the employee was fired and the tow yard lost its police contract.

Because of the police handling of the Bronco, Simpson's lawyers contend, Ito should not allow into evidence 46 items removed from it in five searches after the burglary. The lawyers argue that no one can be sure those items were in the vehicle when it was towed from the street outside Simpson's estate.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|