SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1969
THE COURT: Let the record show that we are in chambers without the defendant being present.
MR. ROSS: All I want to say, your Honor, is this that I received a phone call from Deputy Guenther, one of the investigating officers in the case, and he informed me that the Los Angeles Police Department just told him a few minutes earlier that they had an individual who may have some information about this case. It is rather nebulous, because they don't know what the information is. They frankly do not know whether or not it will make any difference in the case. One way or the other, they don't know, and what they asked was that if I could get the case continued until 2:00 o'clock this afternoon, with the possibility of reopening it or at least informing counsel for the defense what this person that they are going to interview has to state.
It is now 10:30. By the time we go over the instructions, we couldn't get started until about 11:00 o'clock this morning. So in effect, all I am asking for is a one-hour continuance to get this information this afternoon.
It is rather nebulous, and I will state that to the Court, because I don't know what he has to say, this person, or whether they can even get in contact with him; but I do feel that it might have some pertinent information, not only for the People but perhaps for the defense; and if there is something else that they do come up with, I think that fairness would require that we find out what it is, especially if it is going to be, in effect, a one-hour continuance.
MR. SALTER: I would say, your Honor, we object to this continuance in the matter. We would object to any reopening of the case.
The situation, as counsel appears to have accurately stated, and whatever information he knows, I know of no information that not only do they not know where this person is now located, that they would have to locate the person, and once that person is located, the information he has, they don't know what information it is, whether it is the type of information that would even be admissible, whether it is hearsay.
Evidently, he was arrested at one time by the police, and they didn't have anything on him or whatever. They arrested him, and he has been released. So not only do they have to, one, find out where he is; secondly, they have to find out what he has to say; and thirdly, they would have to find out whether this would be admissible; and fourth of all, if it were admissible, I would object to the impact upon the jury.
Upon those grounds, I would object strenuously to even an hour's continuance or a half hour's continuance, whatever it would mean, because in the final analysis, I am going to object to the People reopening their case in a matter like this. It has a devastating effect upon the defense, and we put on about one minute of defense testimony, and all of a sudden they come up with something else.
MR. ROSS: Well, we would agree with Mr. Salter.
THE COURT: Just a moment. I will grant the motion. We will continue the matter to 2:00 o'clock this afternoon.
MR. ROSS: Very well.
THE COURT: I would like to see your instructions.
MR. ROSS: Yes, I do have them.
Do you want to inform the jury and then cut them loose?
THE COURT: I will, as soon as they are assembled. We will get them in.
(Whereupon the following proceedings were had in open court within the presence and hearing of the jury.)
THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You know, I can remember a friend of mine that was on a jury once, and he said if I ran my business the way you run these jury trials, I would go broke. It was a very cogent observation. However, there are so many strenuous factors that enter in that it is difficult. Let us say that.
There has been a matter brought before the Court which will require a continuance of this matter until 2:00 o'clock this afternoon so that at this time I am going to excuse you until 2:00 o'clock. You girls can go Christmas shopping. In any event, you are excused.
Remember the admonition not to discuss the case, and report back here at 2:00 o'clock this afternoon.
Thank you, gentlemen.
(Whereupon the following proceedings were had in chambers outside the presence and hearing of a jury.)
THE COURT: Let the record show that we are in chambers out of the presence of the jury. The defendant and his counsel are present.
MR. ROSS: This morning I indicated to you that there was a possibility of some further information coming forth, and at that time I had indicated a call from a police officer and asked that the matter go to 2:00 o'clock this afternoon. It is just after 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, and I have been informed by the police officers, that there is some information which is vital, can be vital to the outcome of this case, which information was not discovered until, I would say, approximately 9:00 o'clock this morning.
The officers informed me -- and I am not at liberty to state what the basis of that information is -- but they have stated to me that this information, as I stated could be quite vital. They will not be able to final up this information or the presentation of this evidence until Monday, the 24th of November.
I am therefore requesting that a continuance be granted until that time, the 24th of November, Monday, and that if such information does come forward, that we be permitted to reopen the case, depending upon the outcome of that information.
When I do have that information, it will, of course, be provided to the Public Defender on behalf of his client.
THE COURT: I want to get the complete record on this thing now.
Let the record show that upon my return to the courtroom just prior to 2:00 o'clock, at the time we were set for trial and in the presence of everyone, Mr. Fitz, who at that time was unknown to me, asked to come into chambers. We have just had a short conversation in chambers that is, Mr. Fitz and I personally -- and in that conversation Mr. Fitz has related to me what Mr. Ross has just told me, that there is information that is vital to this case.
On his representation that it is highly confidential, I did not demand of him that he disclose it even to me.
I want that on the record so that the record is complete on the thing.
Now, go ahead.
MR. SALTER: Well, I, of course, would say, your Honor, as far as the ethics of Mr. Fitz's even discussing this case outside my presence with the Court, I think, is highly unethical, and I appreciate the Court's putting on the record what did, in fact, happen inside; but I find it highly unethical of Mr. Fitz, and I certainly do not include Mr. Ross in this -- Mr. Ross, as far as I am concerned, handled himself above repute in any way.
THE COURT: Like he always does.
MR. SALTER: As far as I am concerned, I think it is unethical. I think it is improper, and I think it is unfair to the defendant to have any information.
Now, I know Mr. Fitz was in here about ten minutes, but I do know that it is improper in something so important as this to have any communication with this Court outside my presence.
I think, as far as I am concerned, it is enough for prejudicial error in this case.
THE COURT: I was here, and I have advised Mr. Fitz of the factors that he would establish for an appeal by taking this course of action, and this, of course, is a risk that the prosecution takes any time they do this.
I am going to say this: when the District Attorney, Mr. Ross or Mr. Fitz, represents to me that their situation is in this factor, and since they are fully aware of the effect that this will have on an appeal in this case, I am relying upon their representation, and I am going to grant the motion.
MR. SALTER: Your Honor, before the Court makes the ruling, I would like to be heard.
THE COURT: I want you to be heard fully.
MR. SALTER: First of all, for the record, and because I feel so strongly about it, I certainly object to any continuance in this matter, and a continuance to Monday, I think, is unheard of. Here we are at Tuesday. The case was closed sometime after 3:00 o'clock Monday. So that's in a sense a week's continuance. We don't know what will be said to whom in the jury, what conversations they will overhear.
There is also another matter in this case, a Susan Atkins, who sometime in the next week or so will be arraigned on this matter, and there have been some reports in the papers of her statements which are highly incriminating to Mr. Beausoleil.
THE COURT: Who is this Atkins?
MR. SALTER: Susan Atkins.
THE COURT: Yes?
MR. SALTER: Susan Atkins is allegedly one of the girls referred to by Mr. Beausoleil.
THE COURT: Is that the case you had out in Malibu?
MR. ROSS: Yes. That comes up for arraignment on the 26th.
MR. SALTER: I show the Court the article in the Evening Outlook. There was a statement of Susan Atkins as to Mr. Beausoleil's having done certain things in this matter, and the danger of this information getting to the jury becomes that much more as the days pass, especially considering the coverage the Outlook has given to this case.
People talk to other people, and the jurors, although they may try to refrain from hearing information --
THE COURT: Pardon me. May I ask a point of information? Is her arraignment due in Superior Court?
MR. ROSS: On the 26th, a week from tomorrow.
MR. SALTER: Now, we have a situation where I had about one minute of defense testimony. Then we rested. Now, all of a sudden, a whole week's continuance is going to take place. The jury is going to be out. There is not control of the jury during that week. If they do come up with something, then, they are going to start putting that evidence, and that becomes devastating, putting on evidence after I have rested, after a week. Then I may be in a positive where I will need a continuance to investigate the evidence. That is a side issue as to how much information, knowledge, am I going to have of what evidence they have so that I can send my investigators out. That is besides the point.
I think a week's continuance in the case, when it is ready to go to the jury, and the jury was originally to come back at 10:30 to hear arguments, the delay has become unheard of; and I don't care what evidence they have, for a week's delay in this case is highly prejudicial; and I think it is error, and I am objecting.
I don't think it is a question, your Honor, of an appeal, the People putting themselves in a position where they may be subject to an appeal in this case, because if there is an appeal in this case, during the whole period of appeal, where does Mr. Beausoleil stay? He stays in State Prison.
It is the duty of this Court to determine at this time whether what they are asking is proper or not, and if the Court is even of the mind that they are in danger of an appeal, I think the Court may be of the state of mind that what they are asking is not proper, and I think it is the Court's duty to deny the request and have us proceed.
I would also request that anything else that Mr. Fitz said in chambers that may be part of the Court's reason for ruling, however the Court will rule, that it be made part of the record at this point.
THE COURT: All I can do is tell you, Mr. Salter, in that regard, that I have specifically asked Mr. Fitz not to go into any detail with regard to what it is, because of his assurance that it is important.
I pointed out to him that he was inviting an appeal for this very reason, and he felt that it was sufficiently important to run that risk.
I am going to rely upon his representation to me.
MR. SALTER: I have been practicing law for about ten years, and as far as I am concerned, I have been completely shocked, because I had an idea, for the ten minutes that I was out there, that Mr. Fitz was talking about this case to the Court, and I find it shocking, your Honor. To me, it is shocking that when you are in the middle of a trial, where this young man can end up with a life imprisonment, that the District Attorney in such an important matter can walk into this chambers, and he has the audacity to talk about this case without my being present. I just find it shocking.
Nothing is that important as to warrant this type of behaviour from Mr. Fitz, and as far as the continuance I think it is outrageous.
THE COURT: Will you get the record straight?
MR. SALTER: The record is as it is, your Honor.
THE COURT: I am going to continue the matter until next Monday morning.
MR. SALTER: May I ask the Court, then, if the Court is making that order to instruct the jury that they are to refrain from reading any articles, letting people talk to them about this matter, or anything concerning this matter, and that if anybody does mention anything to them, they are to come to Court right away, and that they cannot read the Outlook; they must refrain from reading the Outlook, and that also no information be given by the District Attorney's office. I would ask the Court to make an order that no information be issued to anybody, including the press, by the District Attorney's office or the Sheriff's office regarding this case.
THE COURT: Let me put it his way: if I find out that any law enforcement officer or agent is giving any information to the press about this case or any related case, I am going to grant a mistrial.
MR. SALTER: Well, your Honor, I am not asking for a mistrial. I am asking for an order.
THE COURT: What order do you want?
MR. SALTER: That the District Attorney's office and all law enforcement agencies be refrained from giving out any information in this case to any members of the press or anyone else not connected with this case.
MR. ROSS: Let me just state, your Honor, that in that connection I will give out only such information as things happen in open court.
MR. SALTER: I am not asking that. I am asking that no information be given.
THE COURT: I see no reason to give anybody information between now and Monday.
MR. ROSS: You can make the order. I won't give any information. It is as simple as that. I am happy to wear a muzzle.
MR. SALTER: I strenuously object to this continuance
THE COURT: I think your objection is sufficient for the record.
Let us get the jury in.
MR. SALTER: In view of the Court's order, it seems to me that I should be informed within a certain length of time as to what this information is, what evidence they are going to put in. I don't want to come in Monday, and then all of a sudden, they tell me what it is, and then I am in a position for a further continuance.
MR. ROSS: I had stated that, Counsel, when I first made my motion. As soon as I am in possession of any kind of concrete information that will do you or me any good, or in any case do anyone any good in connection with the case, I will supply it to you. I said that when I started this, and I can only reiterate it.
THE COURT: All right.
(Whereupon the following proceedings were had in open court within the presence and hearing of the jury.)
THE COURT: Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is good afternoon, good-bye. There has been a request for a continuance in this case, ladies and gentlemen, which I have granted; and at this time I am continuing the matter until next Monday morning.
Knowing the state of our Monday morning calendar, I am going to make it at 11:00 o'clock next Monday morning. So at this time you are excused, and that means that you are excused from the jury panel so that you don't have to report back at all. I don't want you to get involved in any other cases in the meantime. You are excused until next Monday morning, that is, the 24th of November, at 11:00 o'clock in this courtroom.
Now, I can't urge you too strongly not to discuss the case with anyone. If anyone attempts to discuss this case with you, I want to know about it.
Please refrain from reading any material that may be printed about it so that you don't contaminate the situation; and also remember that you are to retain an open mind in the case until it is finally submitted to you. So with all of those admonitions in mind, good luck to you, and have a good weekend. We will see you Monday morning. Thank you.
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