Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday's Distraction: Rakofsky vs. the Internet

My distraction for today, along with some helpful suggestions for trial (towards the end): 

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose that what some folks say about the Rakofsky v. Others (google his name to learn more) does not mean or matter much. For those who don't know who Mr. Rakofsky is, he is an attorney who defended a murder trial that resulted in widespread criticism of how he handled it.

It did not end there - Rakofsky through counsel  then filed a lawsuit against more than 80 bloggers/media outlets/attorneys and/or firms who criticized or reported on it.

On June 15, 2011 The Citizen Media Law Project posted a summary of the goings on. Find it here. Today's distraction for me? At the bottom of that site's links in Rakosky you will find this:

 Rakofsky Murder Trial Transcript (04-01-2011)

In my business, I review all kinds of transcripts - deposition transcripts, hearing transcripts, trial transcripts. The seven page excerpt is not a trial transcript.  

So - as a mere bystander - my question is this: Why hasn't any blogger, reporter, or media outlet simply called up the court reporter and coughed up the $$$ to order the complete transcript that shows how Rakofsky handled the underlying case?

In this case there has been a dissection of nearly every development. Mr. Rakofsky's photograph has been published many times. His website, his telephone number, business addresses, and facebook page excerpts have been splashed across the internet. All of those things are intriguing in a "there's a fiery crash on the other side of the interstate" kind of way, but why hasn't someone delved into the statements made during the trial?

I'd be interested in reading how jury selection went. Wait, I know what you are thinking - voir dire is not transcribed or 'taken down' as we call transcription  in the south. I will tell you that in each of my trials I do have voir dire transcribed so that if there is any issue regarding a civil Batson claim  I don't leave it up to memory or handwritten notes. (Tip: I know, it costs more to do it, but transcribe jury selection. It has saved me twice.) 

Typically, pre-trial matters or general housekeeping items are part of any trial transcript. You know what I mean: In the hour or two before the trial begins there are last minute motions, issues, or even questions to the Judge. Were there any? Would a a transcript show how the attorney handled himself?

Opening statements - were there objections? What did Mr. Rakofsky assert? Did he even make opening statements? How were the witnesses cross examined by defense counsel during the prosecution's case in chief? How were objections made, argued, and ruled upon by the Court?

I'm taking a wild guess that after (or if) the USA rested there was some type of Motion seeking acquittal (Disclaimer: I don't defend accused citizens in criminal matters). Was there? How was it argued? What theories?

From reading the short transcript online the Court noted that Mr. Rakofsky had asked to withdraw in "mid-trial" - why? Were the reasons stated in open court?

That's my distraction today as I work on the day to day legal matters in my office. Many questions, not many answers. If the rest of the transcript is as  revealing as the seven page excerpt was, I don't think it's going to be pretty.