On Mon, 30 Sep 2002 01:22:27 GMT, [email protected] (Keith Henson) wrote:
>Deja Vu--Bankruptcy Trial: Day One
Block 2, Camino Real
Tennessee Williams wrote a play about people who thought they were on a mythical highway they called (as the California street is named) "El Camino Real" (Spanish for "The Royal Road"). To emphasize the contrast between their illusions and the objective facts of their lives, for each scene there is an announcement as if the cast is progressing down a road, but it's pronounced "*Cam*inoe Reel" (like "Domino Reel"). I thought of that theatrical ploy today in court.
When testifying one thinks one is going down one road, but quite another is planned by a vicious cross-examining attorney. Being examined by a friendly attorney (one's own or sympathetically) is like driving down a pleasant and familiar street in one's hometown, waving to neighbors and friends. Then your car is hijacked at gunpoint, your hands are taped with duct tape, you're slapped around and stuffed into the trunk and driven blindly into the night, occasionally stopping off to be beaten up some more. I can anticipate more of this tomorrow.
Back to the beginning again.
Shortly after I arrive to find the courtroom door locked, I think I hear Kobrin's voice, but I when the doors are opened I only see Rosen, Seid, Bright and Zlotoff. Fishface and Fuzzhead arrive later, and Kobrin is latest of all. They do not wait proceedings for her. Before the judge comes in, Rosen comments to Zlotoff that he hears that Stan's "favorite attorney" was not reappointed--Judge March of the Central District. "What happened to Judge March," Zlotoff asks, "Did you guys get to her?" Whenever Rosen doesn't want to hear something, he doesn't. "What?" he asks. Zlotoff tries again after snickering from McShane et al. "She saw the error of her ways?" Rosen says: "Had I known she was up for reappointment" he would have taken issue to it. He remarks, "It's nice to see that at least the Central District of California takes its reappointments seriously. We'll see about the Northern District." (This is ominous. Just how much influence does the "Church" have on appointments or reappointments of judges?) Zlotoff again: "I think that the only important thing about reappointments is how they treat big companies" versus little companies in bankruptcies.
Rosen to a different clerk: "Maybe we should play the videotape again now that you're back." (This is evidently the clerk they were joking would be disappointed that the doctored videotape of Keith was played while she was gone.) "We wouldn't want you to miss this."
Rosen is smug, obviously rested and ready for battle this morning.
Don't stand so
Don't stand so close to me" (is that fewer than 7 lines, Judge Whyte?)
Big sigh from Rosen into the microphone.
I'm reading Kristi Wachter's excellent calendar of quotations and dates of birth of comedians from the past couple of thousand years. It really helps my state of mind.
The judge arrives at 10:39. "Good morning counsel." When counsels are asked to identify themselves, Rosen states that Kobrin is on her way. I take the stand still under oath from last Friday. The objections keep coming, all either on technical issues or based on lies and exaggerations from 2004 examinations and other $-ology manipulated events. Rosen argues that I don't know anything about Keith's or even my own affairs, and that Henson has destroyed documents (not true).
Rosen's allegations about me--that I don't know anything about where Keith works or what he does are based on 2004 examinations conducted after Keith and I had had to stop sharing information with one another about where our offices, equipment and places of employment were, in order to protect our employers, friends, neighbors, family and membership organizations from invasion, harassment by telephone, picketing, stalking and other persecutions.
Rosen asks Kobrin for papers. He gets a little flustered, breathing harder. His feigned indignant stance is wearing thin. His Honor must rule on every single one of Zlotoff's questions, every answer. I am not allowed to offer truth, only carefully circumscribed answers to precise question. Nevertheless, I do manage to insert some truth in, even if I have to address the judge directly and respectfully. I worry that I have affirmed that I will tell the whole truth, but that I will be prevented from doing so, held in a suffocating net of minutiae and technicalities, as well as allegations, lies and other obfuscations.
American courts are not made for the truth, and sometimes it appears to me that the judge is powerless to get at it. He is bound by this article and that code. But as the day wears on he allows a little more leeway.
At a break Rosen quips, "Stan--good thing I said I am not going to hold you to your estimate [of examining me]." Further, "I got an incredible amount of cross-examination." He keeps harping on this. I think it's for my benefit. I look at Rosen as little as I can possibly manage--same for the rest of the Gestapo. He says, "I can't pass up the opportunity." (Opportunity to what? Attempt to destroy me?)
"Well," Stan replies, "let me get in more evidence." Rosen says that for every question he "gets in" "that's 5 questions I have on cross."
There is a lunch break at 12:50. I manage to get to Kinko's, but by the time I have eaten a little lunch, cleaned up and gotten into the main library I see I only have 15 minutes to get back, so I hit *Cam*ino Reel again.
The courtroom is locked again. Arriving are first Rosen, then Kobrin, then Seid & McShame, all in a jocular mood. I ask the man in the jury box when we resume if he is a law student. He is not. He doesn't volunteer any further information. He does take notes. He is oriental (Korean?).
I've become accustomed (to his smile)--no to lies, abuse and hatred. This is not the life I would have chosen for myself, but it is one in which I have learned valuable lessons probably not available to me otherwise.
Rosen gives Zlotoff some papers: "Keep it under seal." Now it's Zlotoff's turn to say "What?" and Rosen says, "What I just gave you, keep it under seal." Interchange between Zlotoff and Rosen. Seid asks about the workings of the transcription/recording machine used for both voice recognition and recording, with corrections by the clerk. Zlotoff talks with the other clerk.
At 2:01 Zlotoff has to attend to another matter of which he has informed the judge.
This nothing but a game or a job to everyone else here: To me it is my life, my future, over which I no longer have control. Rosen: Stan, do you have any time how long you're going to be?" (How many times now has he asked that?) Stan: About 10-15 minutes." "Sorry, I diddled you out of 10 minutes," says the clerk who had wanted to see the video. Rosen" "10 minutes. OK, I'll be back in 10." I decide to take a nap in this suddenly quiet place.
I had inadvertently kept an exhibit document, unsure whether to leave it on the desk or return it to Zlotoff. Apparently I should have returned it to her. She retrieves it. When the judge returns, Rosen asks about objections, the ones that were to be briefed. The judge says, "Since it's obvious we're not going to finish today . . . file brief tomorrow . . ." Someone says this is anathema--286 exhibits in 5 volumes for RTC only. Stan has a single thin binder of exhibits, some of which have been excluded by motions in limine (one of the worse abuses of the American legal system). More arguments about exhibits. Two more exhibits are added: 288, which is Whyte's order under seal, of which it is said that Valerie Barber in the Clerk's office will help with the mechanics of getting it admitted. 287 is a posting respecting that order filed under seal "because it violates Judge Whyte's order." More arguments about admitting exhibits. The judge isn't accepting 287, I think, but Rosen moves that it be accepted.
Sometime during the examination, Rosen repeats a point for the nth time. Rosen: "I ask your honor . . . " Weissbrodt breaks in, "You have said that over and over and over again. It is 2:55.
At 3 pm another 5-minute break. Fishface and Fuzzhead are yakking with Bright behind them. McShane & Rosen giggle together, and Rosen then pants into the microphone for awhile, making notes. The clerks are visiting together. McShane goes back to sit in the front row with Fishface. Seid and Stan return. Kobrin is much less energetic than yesterday. Fuzzhead is in the back row. Zlotoff leans against a wall outside the bar and reads a document (the one Rosen gave him?). Seid returns to her place on the sidelines on the other wise of the bar. I wonder if they will huddle as they did yesterday, Seid on one side, Kobrin on the other side of Rosen, whispering into his ears. He claims to be slightly deaf in his right ear. But they use both ears sometimes.
After more parries and thrusts while I'm on the stand. Rosen claims that even if I testify that I filled out the income tax return that doesn't prove the truth of it. Well, as I wrote above, it isn't the first time I've been called a liar by this liar. At four the judge asks me if I would like a break, since Stan has completed his examination. He is cordial and asks me if 10 minutes will be enough. It's enough to go to the bathroom and find my glasses. Zlotoff goes downstairs with Rosen & McShane, with Rosen putting him down, speaking disparagingly of what he has accomplished with my testimony.
Back in the courtroom, Rosen is consulting Kobrin, "This is the point I begin with, right?" No doubt that OSA coaches, that the script is written by Tennessee Kobrin.
One of the things Stan has asked me to do is identify the handwriting on the bankruptcy schedules. Since I saw Keith working on them and some of the handwriting on them is clearly his, I assume all of it is, although it looks funny. There is a lot of printing, and I don't usually see Keith's printing. What's more, I haven't seen much of Keith's handwriting (no more than a few words) in almost a year and a half. I testify that it is all his handwriting, but several times I attempt reservations--"It appears to be," "I think so." "It looks funny," and so on. I feel uncomfortable about this line of questioning, but I have no memory that Keith didn't make out all of the schedules himself. Hmm. So much for memory.
Rosen lights into me right away. He has me look at every page. I can identify several spots where I'm sure it's Keith's handwriting, but I do testify that it is all his. Rosen then springs on me (the hijacking at gunpoint) that Keith testified in his 2004 examination that someone in Graham Berry's office made out most of it. Well, that explains why it looks funny! I had assumed that maybe stuff was written in pencil and then overdrawn in pen, which always makes things look strange. He asks me if I wish to recant my testimony. I said that I must have been mistaken on this detail. Rosen then accuses me of working out a deception with Keith over the phone. I deny it.
The judge interrupts to say that court must close at 4:45 and that the trial will resume at 1:30 on Tuesday. The judge, Zlotoff and Rosen joke about how long Rosen's cross-examination will last. "You want to use 100, 200 [hours]?" Zlotoff: "Does he want some of mine?" Weissbrodt points out that the original estimate was 20 days. What about any other witnesses, all the rest had been withdrawn. Rosen says, "I'd like to know about it" if Zlotoff has more witnesses. Zlotoff says that he doesn't know of any immediately, but that if he gets a brainstorm at 2 a.m. . . . ." Weissbrodt: "Call us immediately."
The court adjourns. Zlotoff stops me with a list of documents he wants. That ought to keep my busy. When Keith calls I tell him what documents they are looking for. I don't have much here, since most of it is now in Canada. I hope we can find the necessary documentation, but my faith in courts, even in well-intentioned judges has been destroyed. I will do my best, but even the love, humor and truth I try to project are unlikely to be enough.
This is, after all, a script written by Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal and Stephen King, with consultation from John Grisham. Tomorrow, Block 3