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Moreno Hires a Jury Consultant

Dimitrius, well-known for advising Simpson's defense team, will help winnow pool of jurors.

January 11, 2006|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Angels unveiled a new star on their defense team Tuesday, a nationally renowned consultant perhaps best known for advising the lawyers representing O.J. Simpson how to select the jury that ultimately acquitted him of murder charges.

As jury selection began Tuesday in the trial between the Angels and the city of Anaheim, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius joined Angel owner Arte Moreno and co-counsel Todd Theodora at the defense table. Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle sat with the city's lawyers.

Before the proceedings began, Pringle approached Moreno in a hallway outside the courtroom, and the two men shook hands and exchanged greetings. Their relationship has been icy since a then-secret meeting in December 2004, when Moreno explained why he wanted the city to support a name change and Pringle refused. Moreno added Los Angeles to the Angels' name within days, and Anaheim sued in response.

On Tuesday, Moreno called settlement discussions "old news" and said there had been none in the last week. He said he plans to attend the trial every day -- "at least until spring training," he said.

Jury selection is expected to be completed today, with opening statements scheduled for Friday. The trial extends through Feb. 10 on the preliminary court calendar; the Angels open spring training Feb. 15.

In addition to her work on the Simpson defense, Dimitrius has advised the defense in the Scott Peterson trial and the prosecution in the sexual assault case against Kobe Bryant. Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son; the charges against Bryant were dropped after the accuser declined to testify.

Dimitrius has helped select more than 600 juries and has evaluated more than 10,000 jurors, according to a biography on her firm's website, and a legal magazine once dubbed her "The Seer" for her "astonishing ability to understand and predict the behavior of jurors, witnesses, lawyers and judges."

Through questions and observations during jury selection, she helps select a jury that might be most favorable to her client. The decision to hire her "shows the team is sparing no expense in litigating this matter," said Sheldon Eisenberg of the Santa Monica law firm Bryan Cave.

The city did not hire a jury consultant. Co-counsel Andy Guilford declined to explain why but said, "We'll be all right. I think we'll get a fair jury no matter what."

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