Saturday, September 01, 2007

To Live and Fly to L.A., part 2

This past April, I blogged about a trip to Los Angeles to testify at a hearing. The hearing went to trial this past week. I flew out to LAX Thursday afternoon, courtesy of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. I got home today around noon. I could have flown out Friday night. But because my testimony is the basis for most of the case, I knew I'd be in court all day and didn't want to stress out about catching a flight back like I did in April. The DA's office had no problem having me stay until Saturday.

Although I wasn't outside much, the weather in Los Angeles was hot and sticky. Thursday and Friday evenings did cool down to a comfortable temperature. Knowing fully well this trip was on the city, any luxury or frills would be few or non-existent. I was right.

On the flight from SFO, my seat assignment was in the aisle seat of the very LAST row of the plane. Not so bad when you have to use the facilities. And not so bad had I been permitted to board the plane first. But my seating group was the last one called. By the time I got to my seat, all the overhead bins were full, so I had to reverse back 10 rows to find the nearest available bin to store my carry-on suitcase, apologizing profusely to everyone I bumped into.

When I got off the plane, I was instructed to call the hotel to have their shuttle pick me up. The hotel was only 5 minutes from the airport. I waited in the Hotel Shuttle pick up area at LAX for nearly an hour before the shuttle van spotted me. The first shuttle came about 15 minutes after I called the hotel, but drove right past me. When I finally got to the hotel, the reservation had me listed to stay only 1 night and not 2. They told me I needed to contact the DA's office to correct the mistake. I did get meal vouchers for dinner and breakfast at the hotel.

The room I stayed in was so-so. Bathroom fixtures needed serious updating. The pipes leaked a bit and I had to put a towel on the floor. I know I've moved up in the world when the last 2 hotels I've stayed in, the bathrooms aren't as nice as my bathroom at home. The restaurant staff was nice, but it was really an overpriced Denny's. When I went there to have dinner Friday night, on the lighted board listing the specials read, DINNER: Peper Steak. SOUP: Clams Chawder. I wanted so much to take a picture with my cell phone, but it wouldn't have shown up with the dim lighting in the restaurant.

I was scheduled to be at the courthouse by 9 a.m. Friday morning and begin providing testimony at 10:30. I was instructed to arrange with the hotel to have their shuttle drop me off at the courthouse (only 3 minutes away). When I asked, they told me the shuttle only drives to and from the airport. After I told them I'll miss my court appearance, they relented a bit and said the driver would take me if he didn't have any passengers to take to the airport. They told me to make sure it was OK with the driver. When I asked the driver, he told me he needed approval from his supervisor, which was the person who told me to ask the driver. Wow, what service.

The driver ended up taking me to the courthouse, with another couple in the van on the way to the airport. When I got to the office of the Deputy DA who was handling the case, I spent over an hour in his office reviewing the details until the trial began at 10:30. We then headed to court at 10:30 and I waited outside until they were ready to swear me in.

At 11:00, I still hadn't been sworn in and the jury came out and was told to return at 1:30. The Culver City detective that made the arrest told me there'd been an issue of whether or not the original report I provided would be admissable in court. So I went off with the Deputy DA and Public Defender to a conference room to talk about the reports. This took 90 minutes, most of it from the Public Defender trying to understand the financial statements.

It was now 12:30. I grabbed a lame turkey sandwich and chips at the cafeteria in the courthouse and waited in the Public Defender's office until court was ready to reconvene. I was sworn in, and provided testimony until 3:00, when the judge called for a 10 minute recess. Then the Public Defender cross-examined me until 4:10 when the judge called it a day.

While there were a lot less objections in my testimony, there was at one point a lengthy sidebar, and just one "strike that from the record, the jury will disregard those remarks". I made a conscious effort to speak slowly and clearly, as I was told previously at the hearing I spoke a bit too fast. I was proud of myself when the court stenographer didn't ask me to repeat anything.

This was one of my not so fun trips. Crummy hotel and service, flights to and from Los Angeles barely tolerable but thankfully short, and total time in court was over 4 1/2 hours. I intended to go the gym once I got home, but after all the terrible food I had, I inhaled a rice plate when I got home. So I ended up crashing on the couch for 2 hours. I probably needed the rest. It's good to be home.

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