Once again, the jury looks like a PTA meeting in Apple Valley, though with a quality sprinkling of young total knockouts. (Where does Hennepin County keep finding such beautiful jury pool members? Clearly, registering to vote and keeping your drivers license current is HOT)
In the Pratt case, there are 17 properties at issue, most of which are in North Minneapolis. (See the post before the previous post for a PDF copy of the criminal complaint) Yesterday's hearing mostly involved experts presenting their expert qualifications, and coming off as oh-so-expert. One can't help but make stark mental comparisons to some of the witnesses presented by the defense in the (unrelated) Larry Maxwell case, where one so-called expert claimed to have graduated "MAGNUM cum laude."
Four and then, later, five individuals sat in the spectator section of the defense ("bride") section, looking very much like family members, dressed in conservative clothing that wouldn't be out of place at a funeral. There were four black women, who appeared to be a mother, grandmother, and possibly a sister or girlfriend, though the relationship was not clear and I refrained from making inquiries after getting at least one muted hostile glare.
One woman sat and read a copy of "Extreme Faith." Later, a male appeared who looked like he could be Marlon Pratt's brother. He wore a suit coat, but had blue jeans frayed at the cuff. He was portly. He took notes, using a clipboard.
Pratt himself wore a stylish tan suit with a loose cut, and dark glasses with square frames. He struck me as "the good son," who could never quite be good enough, could never break free of an attraction to life on the streets. The criminal indictment states Pratt skimmed off exactly $693,045.28 in kickbacks on mortgage loans. Certainly enough to have a few nice suits hanging in a closet.
Criminal Defense Attorney Larry Reed (who seems to be developing something of a lucrative mortgage fraud specialty) was looking like a GQ fashion model as usual. Really, Marlon Pratt might (through counsel) plead and argue and fight the criminal indictment all he likes, but what will be the end result? Pratt will NOT have nice suits to wear in prison, and Reed will have a few more to wear in court. Pratt might save everybody a lot of time, go into a court restroom with Larry Reed and peel off the nice suit, hand it to Reed and say, "Here, I am done with this. Just plead me out." It would save everybody time and effort, and produce the same end result: Marlon Pratt goes down for a long time and Reed is in possession of more nice clothing.
Swift. Elegant. Frugal. I'm putting it forward as a suggestion.
The composition of the jury and alternates is as follows...
There are five white males, seven white females on the jury. It has been pointed out by a source familiar with the proceedings that this is a rather YOUNG jury.
The seating arrangement appears to reveal which individuals are jurists, and which are alternates, though this assumption may be in error. It is, however, my assumption at this point the alternates consist of one white male, one white female, and one female who looks white but strikes me as possibly of some Hispanic heritage. I am unclear if one of the individuals is actually an alternate at all, or associated with the bailiffs and merely seated NEAR the jury. There are, however, two alternates for sure.
They do not appear very sympathetic to Marlon Pratt, as evidenced by the fact I saw one of the jurists suppress a laugh as Larry Reed verbally stumbled in a colorful way, and shake her head in a motion of slight disdain. And that was one of the jurists I had previously pegged as FRIENDLY toward Marlon Pratt.
Here are the descriptions and colorful nicknames JNS Blog readers have come to expect:
# He Who Brings Home The Bacon. In his mid-50s, with a Caesar-like coif of brunette hair, his bald head so shiny it appears to be WAXED. He has glasses and a slight mustache, carefully trimmed, rather similar to the mustache of the judge. His involvement with the case is intense, hanging on every word, following closely. He wears a gray shirt which bears the name of some entity, possibly his work but perhaps his hobby. There is a picture on the shirt of an antique plane, perhaps World War Two vintage.
He strikes me a worker, a provider, somebody who takes pride in his ability to make things run well and take care of others. During a break, he held the door of the court for his fellow jurors, and then also held it for some of the defendant's family, though he joked, "That will be five dollars." It was a lame joke, but tension hung in the air, and he needed to say SOMETHING at that moment. One can't help but think, however, he has decided Marlon Pratt's corner has plenty of money laying around loose, from MORTGAGE FRAUD, and, gee, wouldn't it be nice for DECENT PEOPLE to get a taste of THAT?
Voted most likely to accept money from a criminal defendant in a brown paper sack while trial is in session. Also voted most likely to hand the sack over to authorities within an hour, blowing the bribery scheme wide open. He comes off as jovial, even a bit comical, but something tells me "Don't mess with that guy." A likely candidate for foreman. He chews on his pen intensely, and the pen chewing habit seems to have spread to the rest of the jury, like a virus, but this guy is the Typhoid Mary Patient Zero of the pen chewing outbreak.
# Bazooka Joe. White male, late 20s, brunette, a bit of premature male hair loss which gives him a slight widow's peak. Red shirt with an abstract logo that would be difficult to discern even at close range, though I saw a "music note" made up part of the logo. He chews gum far to the front of his mouth, and sometimes his lips purse as though he'd like to blow a bubble but...oh, gee, no blowing bubbles in court.
# The Worried Woman. Early 30s, willowy body and a lime green blouse. Short hair with a curly perm. Her eyes are sad, worried, and frequently drift toward the defense table. A look on her face seems to say, "Oh, god, I'm going to have to send that nice-looking young man to prison. That mother in the spectator section will MOURN. I don't want to be here. I don't like this."
# The Note Checker. Mid-30s, a brunette woman with natural, wavy hair, wearing white. She checked here notes intensely at one point and actually appeared to turn to check something with another female jurist, who was also seen flipping through her notes. Count on this one to scrutinize the documents intensely.
# Red Riding Hood. A thin young woman in her early 20s, with a Shirley Temple perm. Her hooded jacket is so scarlet it seems to visually leap from the jury box. The jacket has a fuzzy, comfortable-looking faux-fleece lining. Wearing tight jeans, at times she curls up her legs in her chair like she's watching television late at night on her couch. She is pretty, but looks like she doesn't get enough iron.
Voted most likely to talk to her fellow jurists about vegetarianism.
Given her youth, and a sort of distant expression on her face as the prosecution asked questions, I thought she might be more inclined to sympathize with the defense. But there came a moment when Defense Attorney Larry Reed was verbally stumbling in his expressive baritone, like a tuba player falling down a flight of stairs, and Red Riding Hood put her hand to her mouth, to conceal a laugh, and shook her head, slightly.
"My, Larry, what big LIES you have," her sparkling eyes seemed to say.
# She Who Wants To Stab. A woman in her early 50s, with honey-blonde hair. She kept her hand on her chin and stroked it thoughtfully, holding her pen in her hand LIKE A KNIFE. I noticed a ring on her left hand, which seemed to have some kind of dark green or black stone in the middle. It was not on her ring finger, but on her middle finger. There is some unconventionality here, and also some anger.
# Polka Dot Girl. Early 20s, wearing a long-sleeved white shirt with multi-colored polka dots, tall and thin. The white shirt doesn't quite go with her dark mascara, and you have to wonder if she's picking her clothes in a very deliberate way, conveying an impression which isn't, in the truest sense, the real her.
She leans back and doesn't chew her pen so much as she...runs it over her thin, perfect lips, gently rocking in her chair.
Her mind appears somewhere else at that moment. Indeed, after one of the breaks she entered the room after all the other jurors, with a look of chagrin as she took her seat late. Maybe she was busy calling somebody. If you could look at that whole jury and say to yourself, "Which one just fell in love?" you'd know, in a split second, it was probably Polka Dot girl.
How does that play for Marlon Pratt? Is it easier to send somebody to Purgatory when you yourself are in paradise?
We shall see.
# The Total Hottie. In her early 20s, athletic, with blonde straight hair in a perfect ponytail. She showed up earlier than all the other jurors, virtually camped out in the hall. So she's pretty AND a high achiever. She knows you get things in life by working hard and showing up where you're supposed to be. In my opinion, she will send Pratt to prison without blinking and then, later, put her jury experiences in some kind of academic essay turned in for extra credit when she already had enough points to get an A.
# Good Time Charlie. Portly, mid-30s, with a casual beard below chin level, like he dabbled in growing a beard but, really, it's a lot of work, you know? He has a blue smock-like shirt and a bored expression, resting his hands on his ample beer belly. He has managed to sit between (arguably) the two hottest women on the jury. Coincidence or conspiracy? Sometimes he holds the cap of his pen in his mouth like a cigarette while taking notes.
# The Angel. A slightly-built hot blonde in her early 20s, her face has a beatific expression. Her eyes are often down in her notes, and sometimes I think she is asleep, but then it seems like she is listening with her eyes closed. I think how this pure, innocent spirit should not look upon this (allegedly) bloody, sinful mess of self-interested criminal behavior. She should be rocking a baby and singing a lullaby, I think.
Later, when the jurists are moving around, her face seems more impish for a moment and I imagine her saying, "I've got you all fooled with my angel face. I'm not so innocent at all."
# Suit Guy. A white male in his mid-40s, earing a suit without a tie, his hair is immaculate. His face is intense, frowning, disapproving. He rocks in his seat more than the others. This looks like a person used to being in charge, a man who might have much to say in other contexts but here is forced to be silent. The long, boring testimony seems to grate on him. At a point when Larry Reed goes silent, conferring with Pratt and digging through some paperwork, Suit Guy leans his head back and takes a small mental break. He exhales, and the exhalation sounds PISSED.
# The Haircut. A white male in his mid-20s, with a neat and complimentary haircut. I noticed right away how that good haircut didn't match his dark, casual sweatshirt with an unreadable word on the front, in jagged letters like a heavy metal band.
One gets the feeling he works somewhere with high grooming standards, but in court he is taking an opportunity to be quite casual. You can, however, never escape the aura cast by your haircut just by a change of clothing.
Sitting outside the 12 seats of the jury box, the Presumed And Assumed Alternates are as follows.
# Corner Pocket. Ensconced so deeply at the end of the jury box in his own chair, a thin white man in his early 30s actually had to stand at one point to look at an exhibit, and the judge had to double check at the beginning of proceedings to make sure he was present. Yeah, well, it's Polka Dot Girl you need to keep track of, Your Honor.
# Bailiff Box Woman. There is a small railed-in area near the jury box I have dubbed "the bailiff box," and a woman in her late 40s, early 50s sits there wearing a robins egg blue jacket, drinking juice. She has her own little desk, but doesn't seem to be watching the proceedings too closely as she takes notes.
It's not clear to me whether she actually IS a jury member, or somehow associated with the court officials. Life would be so much easier to figure out if people wore distinctive uniforms, like Marlot Pratt will (I predict) be forced to wear in prison.
# The Hairdo. A brunette woman, whose age may range from mid-30s to mid-40s, she has big hoop earrings and lush brunette hair in a perfect hairdo, where every strand seems to sweep into its proper place like the hair of a statue or a perfect ocean wave.
Something about her general appearance and manner of dress gives me flashbacks to Fort Bliss, Texas, and makes me think she may have some Hispanic heritage. Her manner of dress is pretty but not flashy, mostly black in color and conservative. Yet another established and productive member of society. If she's an alternate, Pratt is lucky, though I'm not seeing a lot of sympathy on that jury, even from college-aged jurists like Red Riding Hood.
No, let's face it, you could mix and match jurists and alternates, and Pratt would still be pretty much screwed. Honestly, you have to wonder, why would ANYBODY go in front of a jury in Hennepin County? Something about the demographics of the Twin Cities consistently produces these "PTA Meeting" compositions, quite bad for defendants.
More on court proceedings in this matter in a subsequent post.