THE BLOG
04/23/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pellicano Trial: Attempt at a Mistrial and the Bert Fields Wait Goes On

I'm sitting in the cafeteria instead of the courtroom because today's trial has been temporarily postponed until at least tomorrow so the Judge can hear a motion for a mistrial filed by Chad Hummel on behalf of his client, Mark Arneson. So, most of today's witnesses have been left cooling their heels and the jury has been sent home. Bert Fields is sitting across the room with his attorney, Brian Sun, as well as a pack of other attorneys who are simultaneously laughing at all of Bert's jokes.

This morning Mr. Hummel argued that the court should grant his client, Mark Arneson a mistrial pending a hearing on the government's use and access to certain so-called "Garrity" statements--statements that Mr. Arneson was compelled to make during a 1999 Internal Affairs hearing. (These statements were made under threat of potential discharge and pursuant to the understanding that they would not be used against him in any subsequent criminal proceedings.) But this morning, Mr. Hummel argued to the Judge that the government had used these "compelled statements" against his client during Mr. Saunders' cross-examination of Mr. Arneson on Friday. Mr. Hummel said that given the government's cross-examination on Friday of Mark Arneson regarding some compelled statements the officer made during an 1999 IAD investigation and the undisputed relevance of those statements to the case and the government's failure to let the defense know that it had these statements (that's what constitutes the alleged Rule 16 violation), he is requesting an immediate mistrial and dismissal based on the government's misconduct. (Mr. Hummel filed his motion yesterday for a mistrial and a stay of proceedings pending an immediate hearing to determine the extent of the government's use of certain statements made by Mr. Arneson during a 1999 LAPD Internal Affairs Division investigation of Mr. Arneson's alleged improper use of LAPD databases.)

Naturally, this morning the government initially argued against Mr. Hummel's motion for a mistrial. Mr. Saunders forcefully told the Judge that while Mr. Lally had in fact gotten an audio recording of Mr. Arneson's IAD hearing, he'd listened to only "five seconds" before turning it over to the appropriate authorities. (So, basically, I'm thinking that when Mr. Lally heard Mr. Arneson's voice on this audio recording that he wasn't supposed to use, he threw the audio recording across the room and ran to wash his hands off.) Mr. Saunders argued that the government was unaware that it had this statement, and that it never heard the statement and finally, that Mr. Saunders' cross-examination questions of Mr. Arneson that dealt with the statement were basically irrelevant to the case since Mr. Arneson never provided any answers. Mr. Saunders argued that the trial should go forward, the motion for a mistrial should be denied and that any prejudice to Mr. Arneson could be cured with an appropriate instruction to the jury that was agreed to by both sides.

The Judge seemed incredibly annoyed by Mr. Hummel's motion and repeatedly told him that it was denied and that he needed to call his first witness. Mr. Hummel remained steadfast in his resolve to not go forward, arguing that he never would have let Mr. Arneson testify in his own defense if he'd known the government was in possession of this IAD statement and that the government intended to use it in it's cross examination of Mr. Arneson. The Judge then suggested that Mr. Hummel either call Mr. Arneson or call another witness. Mr. Hummel took a short break to consult with his client and when court resumed, he again told the Judge that he would not call Mr. Arneson and that to call another witness would prejudice his client. He expressed his intention to take the matter up on a writ (that's an appeal) with the 9th circuit if the Judge didn't stay today's court proceedings and grant a hearing. The Judge seemed reluctantly persuaded by Mr. Hummel's intention to seek a writ and the government finally agreed to quickly brief the matter for a 10:00AM hearing.

So, here's where we are right now. Bert Fields will have to wait until tomorrow as will his legal entourage. And, the Judge will be upstairs stewing about the fact that Mr. Hummel has brought an already slow trial to a grinding halt and Mr. Saunders and Mr. Lally will be busy putting their heads together to figure out a way to defeat Mr. Hummel's motion.


Read all the coverage from inside the Pellicano courtroom.