Breaking News: Reiser Will Testify
Today’s session was otherwise unremarkable.
The jury was sent home early in order for the defense to argue a mistrial motion growing out of a contretemps that occurred earlier when Bill DuBois was chastised in front of the jury – improperly chastised the defense argues – over a dispute about exactly what young R. (Hans’ son), had said on the crucial matter of Nina’s departure from the Exeter house on 9-3-06.
As I indicated at the time, we can expect the court to address the problem in the instruction to the jury; a mistrial will not be granted, in my opinion.
But we were treated to a window into the inner working of defense planning when the judge revealed the forthcoming schedule.
Tomorrow: A Reiser family law juvenile court attorney continues with testimony. (See my summary below). Then, as time allows we are to expect the following:
A defense DNA expert A defense shrink
Thursday: Han Reiser will testify.
Monday (March 3): Reiser testimony probably concludes.
Wednesday & Thursday: More evidence – not specified, but possibly DA rebuttal.
The week of Monday March 10: Recess all week.
Monday: March 17: Closing Arguments begin.
What the jury heard today:
A software designer who knew Hans provided a sort of personal profile of Hans as a careful, very bright man who tended to hide his distress. A pull quote: “… I think he’s a pretty erudite person. He generally thinks through things.”
Then on cross examination, DA Hora referenced an article in the Daily Cal student newspaper describing an argument between Hans and a student. This is one of the strangest episodes I‘ve encountered in a defense case. Here is a witness called by the defense for essentially a trivial discussion with little advance preparation, who becomes a witness that provides potentially damaging character evidence on cross examination.
Here is how the witness described the student after the confrontation: “…there were no signs of any struggle or anything like that.”
I’m sorry, what were we supposed to expect? That Hans had attacked the student with a crowbar?
This was the defense witness describing Hans: “I think he’s a little arrogant.”
The juvenile court attorney who represented Hans as he sought custody of his two children began testimony that ended early. So far, we’ve learned that, during these juvenile court custody proceedings, Hans had been tagged as “a person of interest” in his wife’s disappearance.
Hans’ testimony is a dangerous, but probably necessary step by the defense.
It is dangerous because the defendant will have to explain a number of things, like the removal of his hard drive, the not trivial matter of where and how he disposed of the car seat, and so on. There is a long list of apparently incriminating things to be explained in the case. If this jury thinks that Hans is lying or attempting to deceive them, all of the defense gains will be erased. I have often said that there is no reasonable doubt case so strong that a defendant cannot snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in ten minutes on the witness stand. We can assume that at least one of the DA’s inspectors will be on hand to follow up on leads provided by Hans’ testimony.
The decision to testify was probably necessary because Han undoubtedly made the decision early and firmly thus leading Bill DuBois into the trap: Having announced that his client will testify and having crafted the defense evidence in harmony with that expected testimony (i.e., that Nina is alive and fled the country), the defense credibility is on the line.
We are about to see a bravura defense performance when Hans testifies or we’re going to witness a train wreck. Talk about rolling the dice!