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And now we wait: Jury deliberations in the Danny Masterson trial
We will be arriving at the courthouse this morning at our usual time, even though we know there’s not going to be a lot for us to do.
Closing arguments were completed yesterday at the Danny Masterson trial in Los Angeles, and we felt that both Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller for the prosecution and attorney Philip Cohen for the defense distinguished themselves. We had some reservations about some of Cohen’s tactics, however, and we spelled that out in yesterday afternoon’s end-of-the-day video, which we have linked and posted below, if you haven’t seen it yet.
In the video, we mentioned that we spoke to journalists who have attended most of the trial with us, and they expressed completely opposite viewpoints. One felt that Mueller had “sealed the deal” with his final arguments; the other felt that there was no question Masterson would be acquitted.
Truth is, we just don’t know. And that’s why we’ll be sitting around the courthouse waiting for a verdict.
Some journalists told us they expect a verdict to come by mid-day today. Others told us they can’t see it coming before tomorrow.
We only know that the jury will be motivated to come up with something by Friday at the latest. None of us wants to extend this thing into Thanksgiving week.
Here’s our plan: We’ll put out a notice on Twitter (@tonyortega94) when we get the word that there’s a verdict. We have been told that we’ll get that word about 30 minutes before Judge Olmedo will have the verdict read.
When the verdict comes, we’ll post something again on Twitter. But then you can expect an update here on Substack.
Just to remind you, Masterson has been charged on three counts of forcible rape under California’s “One Strike” law. Each conviction would carry a penalty of 15 years to life in prison, with 45 years to life if all three are guilty verdicts.
As we’ve pointed out numerous times, however, Deputy DA Mueller explained at a preliminary hearing that it’s the potential life sentences under the One Strike enhancement that allow these cases to be brought — with a potential life sentence, there is no statute of limitations. In order to qualify for that enhancement, there must be “multiple” forcible rapes.
In other words, the DA’s office filed three counts, knowing that it needs at least two guilty verdicts to send Masterson to prison.
Judge Olmedo yesterday, after the jury had left, brought up the question, what do we do if they find guilty on one case, and the enhancement? We’re not sure how a jury could manage to do that, but Judge Olmedo then pointed out, they’ll deal with it then if it happens.
As we’ve said for many days now, when we’ve polled the other journalists in the courtroom, we have received wide disagreement about the likely outcome. Several experienced, very good journalists have told us they feel a conviction is assured. But several other journalists who are just as credentialed tell us they expect Masterson to be acquitted.
We know you’ve been hearing from YouTube experts that the “body language” they see in the courtroom tells them it’s going to go one way or the other. But our discussions with the other journalists suggests that no one really knows anything. So we wait.
As for updates during the day, we will probably be dropping some notes at the tonyortega.org site rather than putting out new dispatches on Substack — we know that if we put out an emailed item, it will likely startle people that a verdict has arrived, and we don’t want to risk your ire over false alarms.
As the day progresses, if we get a better sense of how things are going to work, we’ll let you know. We’re going to try to use the waiting time to work on some post-verdict stories. We already have several interviews lined up that we think you are going to find very interesting.
Closing arguments and the chocolate suit
Was it the best sartorial splendor alert of the trial? It was certainly a surprise to see what defense attorney Philip Cohen wore for closing arguments yesterday, and we had plenty to review in our end-of-the-day video. We released it to everyone here at Substack, but we’re linking to it here in case you haven’t seen it. And here’s also the version at our YouTube channel.
Thank you for reading today’s story here at Substack. For the full picture of what’s happening today in the world of Scientology, please join the conversation at tonyortega.org, where we’ve been reporting daily on David Miscavige’s cabal since 2012. There you’ll find additional stories, and our popular regular daily features:
Source Code: Actual things founder L. Ron Hubbard said on this date in history
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Overheard in the Freezone: Indie Hubbardism, one thought at a time
Past is Prologue: From this week in history at alt.religion.scientology
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