Judge Set to Decide Key Issues in Mehserle Trial

Judge Set to Decide Key Issues in Mehserle Trial

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LOS ANGELES -- June 1, at 9 am in downtown Los Angeles may be the final pre-trial hearing for Johannes Mehserle -- ex-transit cop charged with the murder of 22-year old Oscar Grant.  

At that time Judge Robert Perry is scheduled to rule on a motion requesting that attorney John Burris be removed from the list of potential witnesses that the defense intends to call during the trial.

Burris is the attorney for the family of Oscar Grant, Grant’s 4-year old daughter, and several young men in a multi-million dollar civil suit against the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency (BART). The young men were present on the Fruitvale BART Station platform on the morning of January 1, 2009, when Mehserle shot the unarmed Grant in the back.

Rains filed a motion to “Compel Attendance of Witnesses” with the court on May 11, asking that subpoenas be served on John Burris and six other individuals. Rains states in the motion that:

“Burris is an attorney who represents some of the individuals who were involved in this incident … Mr. Burris previously held a press conference in which he indicated that the individuals he represents may be reluctant to give testimony which would ostensibly be helpful to Mr. Mehserle and harmful to Mr. Grant concerning many of the events which occurred on the platform …” .

As of this writing a subpoena has not been served on Burris however, Carl Douglas, Burris’ Beverly Hills-based attorney, says rather than waiting for a subpoena to be issued and then file a motion to quash, they have decided on this course of action.

Burris has stated on many occasions that he believes Rains is attempting to silence him by calling him as a witness and Douglas concurs. “Generally, witnesses are excluded from being inside of a courtroom before they testify in a proceeding, and Mr. Burris wants to be present in the courtroom to monitor the trial because several of his clients are witnesses. This is a backdoor attempt to have Mr. Burris excluded, said Douglas.”

“We also think this is an attempt to have Mr. Burris gagged. When Mr. Burris speaks about matters relating to the civil suit, it is always to the detriment of Mr. Rains’ client, so Mr. Rains want to shut Mr. Burris up. And Mr. Burris will not go quietly.”

Former BART officer Tony Pirone, who was fired from the agency in April along with former officer Marysol Domenici, is also listed as a potential witness for the defense.

Although Pirone’s name was not listed on Rains’ request for subpoenas to appear, it was the subject of the Alameda County District Attorney’s “Proceeding to Compel the Attendance of an Out of State Witness.”

The document, filed with the court on May 4, listed Pirone as a “material witness” whose presence would be needed in court in Los Angeles “from the 7th day of June, 2010, until the 25th day of June, 2010,” and characterized him as having “hostility towards the prosecution in this case.”

Media reports quote William Rapoport, Pirone’s attorney, as saying that the former officer still resides in California; that he is not hostile to the prosecution and that he will be in attendance at the trial.

“Pirone voluntary accepted a subpoena from an inspector in the district attorney's office on [May 25],” and, “Pirone also accepted a subpoena from Mehserle's lawyer, Michael Rains,” according to the Bay City News Service.

The court will also hear on June 1 a motion related to the conditional examination of Michael Schott, a proposed video evidence expert, also on the list of potential witnesses to be called by Rains.

Judge Perry has yet to issue his ruling on the defense’s motion regarding the issuance of instructions on homicide to the jury. The defense is asking the court to instruct the jury to either convict Mehserle of second-degree murder or to acquit him outright.

Michael Rains, attorney for Mehserle, stated in a 103-page brief to the court filed in April that the charge of first-degree murder did not apply to his client due primarily to a lack of “malice aforethought,” and that the lesser charges of involuntary and voluntary manslaughter also did not apply.

Perry's ruling in this matter will most likely come once all of the evidence in the case has been heard.

Jury selection in the trial, which is expected to last three-to-four weeks, is scheduled to begin with the distribution of juror questionnaires on June 2. The questioning of the prospective jurors is slated for June 8, with opening statements in the trial set for June 10, according to a media advisory from the Los Angeles Superior Court.



Posted May 29 2010

it's just so sad that this is happening at all. had the gang of punks not been provoking violence AND had this officer been trained better, the punks would be serving time and the officer would have his life back.

it's just so sad.

peace and blessing to all of us -- perhaps, because of this sad event, we will take more responsibility for our actions.


Posted Jun 4 2010

appreciate the updates, these are very helpful for those of us in the Bay Area.


Posted Jun 6 2010

Good report, but some information seems to be missing.
First, there needs to be a few sentences describing Mehserle's shooting of Oscar Grant in the Oakland BART's Fruitvale station, on New Year's Day, 2009, for readers who don't know about this case.
Also, describe Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, as such, when you first introduce him.
The motion Judge Perry is considering (to remove Grant family attorney John Burris as a witness) is a prosecution motion, which should be identified as such, because the details in this case are complicated and can be confusing to the reader.
In paragraph 4, reporter Chimurenga writes: "Rains says...... " Who is Rains? Identify him now! In the sixth paragraph from the end, the reporter finally writes that "Michael Rains, attorney for Mehserle..." This goes in the 4th paragraph, when you first introduce him.
Why did the prosecution file the motion to quash the Mehserle defense's attempt to call John Burris, the Grant family attorney in a civil suit against BART, as a witness in this trial?
Also, importantly, why is Burris telling the public that his clients, the young men Grant was with the night Mehserle shot him, who Burris also represents in their civil suit against BART, have information that could help Mehserle, and that they are reluctant to reveal it? What about attorney/client privilege?
What, specifically, is Burris' and his attorney's plan to deal with any potential defense subpoena that orders Burris to testify as a witness in this case?
Were former BART policemen Tony Pirone and Marysol Domenici present at the BART station with Meserhle on New Years Eve, when Mehserle shot Grant? If so, include that information. Why did BART officials fire them after Mehserle killed Grant? If you're going to mention that in your news story, you have to explain why for your readers.
On what grounds does Mehserle's defense claim that voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges would be inappropriate?
So far, does the prosecution agree, or will it attempt to include the manslaughter charges, as well as the second-degree murder charge, in its indictment of Mehserle? The judge ultimately decides what charges are appropriate for the indictment. Explain that.
Why is the video expert being given a conditional examination now, before Mehserle's trial begins, instead of being called as a witness at the trial, itself?
Six paragraphs from the bottom, the text should read, "Pirone voluntarily (not voluntary) accepted a subpeona..."
This may seem petty, but why is each sentence in this report a paragraph of its own? It's kind of distracting. The reporter can clump each subject being dealt with into a separate paragraph.
All in all, a decent report on a pre-trial hearing that deals with many complicated legal issues, in a really racially delicate atmosphere, with a lot of raw emotions being exposed. It would be good to have reporter Chimurenga write up daily details of the witness testimony for Newamericamedia at the end of each court session, when the trial starts.


Posted Jul 1 2010

Meserhle is a trigger happy cop.He used his side arm when it's truly not necessary. He liked showing police authority in a brutal way. He must be convicted and suffer the consequences of his action.

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