Monday, November 22, 2010

PART FOUR OF FIVE: Council Member Don Samuels Triumphs Over Uncivilized, Loudmouth Bully Al Flowers...

Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff

Warning: Adult Language

My dearest readers, did you think I'd forget to conclude coverage in Alfred Flowers vs. City of Minneapolis? The part where the jury came back in four hours (lunch included) and found in favor of Council Member Don Samuels over Al Flowers in the great "toe stepping" civil rights trial of 2010? No, actually, I was saving the last part for dessert. (Think of it as a virtual "Dessert With Don.")

For those who are joining the story late, here are links to Parts 1-3.

Part One, setting the stage with Judge Schlitz, like the beer, click here.

Part Two, a parade of sometimes-pathetic plaintiff witnesses spend themselves against "The Teflon Don," to no avail, click here.

Part Three, the last fitful gasp of the plaintiff witnesses, and an overwhelming "tour de force" of credible, politically powerful defense witnesses, click here.

Don Samuels finished his testimony on November 10. The judge, jury, and lawyers would have to show up in a virtually empty court building on a federal holiday to finish up with Alfred Flowers' claim Don Samuels had deliberately stepped on his toes while Samuels' had his back turned...

And So It Ends

On November 11, the court room was lonely but there was Don Allen of the IBNN blog, dressed in a business suit, keeping one side of the court room not-so-lonely. Don Allen didn't seem so much his lively self and sat with his eyes straight ahead, unsmiling. In front of the judge, City Attorney James Moore and Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark were arguing, but only Clark seemed to be putting much energy into the argument which, as it turned out, was a losing argument.

Clark wanted to send a "demonstrative" back to the jury room: the crudely drawn, not-terribly-accurate schematic of the JACC house which had been rendered by plaintiff witness Dokor Dejvongsa on the stand, and subsequently used by other witnesses to point out where they'd been during the incident between Samuels and Flowers. Defense witness Michael "Kip" Browne had complained, on the stand, how the diagram wasn't terribly accurate or to scale but what really mattered was whether the diagram was evidence.

It wasn't. Judge Patrick Schlitz (like the beer) said, in a somewhat didactic tone, the diagram was a "demonstrative" and therefore not evidence and THEREFORE it wouldn't be going back with the jury because, generally, such "demonstrative" evidence doesn't go back with a jury. City Attorney Moore won without needing to try very hard. So began the third day. And so would the third day ultimately end.

Clark then called Don Allen to the stand as an "offer of proof." The judge had already decided Allen couldn't testify as to Don Samuels' "reputation within the community" so the testimony took place outside the hearing of the jury so Clark could make the record as to what Allen WOULD have testified to, if he'd been allowed to testify. I had to wonder if I was the only one in the court who noted something dubious about Clark putting Allen on the stand: Clark is currently suing Don Allen on behalf of her client Jerry Moore, a case this blogger knows all-too-well.

In any case, Allen testified that he didn't agree with the idea of Samuels having a "reputation for peacefulness" within the community and, furthermore, Allen disagreed that Al Flowers frequently interrupts meetings. Allen testified that "at some meetings you can't ask questions that 'go against the grain' of what is being said." However, Judge Schlitz thought the issue of Samuels' reputation in the community made no difference and was "several steps removed" from what the jury had to decide, therefore Schlitz excluded the testimony under Rules 402 and 403.

A Jury Serves America On Veterans Day

The jury had spiffy new name tags when they entered the court room. Martinson, the senior citizen juror who seemed to particularly loathe Al Flowers, was at or near the front of the jurors as they walked to their seats.

The judge read aloud a "stipulation" of facts both sides could agree upon: In 2007, in a DIFFERENT lawsuit, Al Flowers sued Don Samuels in a case that involved things Flowers said on a (public access) television show. The jury awarded damages of $1 and punitive damages of $1. (To readers who are aware of another dollar being out there: apparently there was another defendant involved who also lost a dollar and the stipulation only involved Samuels' dollar and the punitive dollar)

Flowers took the stand again, briefly. Sitting in the seat which had been briefly warmed by Don Allen, Flowers said Don Samuels "doesn't have a reputation for peacefulness" and disagreed that he (Flowers) disrupts meetings, saying it's all about the content of what he's saying.

Well, now that Flowers had nailed down THAT loose board on the ship all by himself himself, it was time to set sail with closing statements.

Paranoid Imaginings Versus, Um, Video

Very soon into his closing argument, Moore said "let's take a look at the video." Moore described Samuels walking "slowly, calmly, peacefully" but "in two seconds, he gets shoved."

Going right after the credibility of attorney Ben Myers and Dokor Dejvongsa, who had testified about a whole lotta toe stepping, Moore said "it's ironic that two witnesses...engaged law partners, representatives of the old board...try to say they could see the feet."

At that moment, one of the jurors' cell phones rang, interrupting the proceedings with a crazy ringtone: the theme from the Benny Hill show, click here for a sample.

There was laughter, probably because the cell phone ring tone was an accidental musical commentary on the past three days: this is RIDICULOUS. How did nine normal people get roped into this charade?

Moore returned to his argument after the ringtone interruption: It defies belief that Dejvongsa doesn't see a push on the video. Flowers even says, "I pushed him" and yet, watching the video of events she herself saw in person, Dejvongsa doesn't see a push. Ask yourself, is she being a candid witness?

"I can't make her see what she refuses to see," Moore said. "Judge her credibility as a witness."

Moore next demolished Farheen Hakeem, pointing out Hakeem "tried to say words that don't appear on the video."

"Let's listen right now to what Mr. Flowers said," Moore urged, and pointed out "His focus isn't on pain or his foot but on the INSULT he perceived when Don stood in front of him...the symbolism was not lost on Mr. Flowers."

Moore talked about how Hakeem discussed her fear of being falsely accused of a crime.

"It's a conspiracy theory spun completely out of her own head," Moore said. "It has no basis in fact...she thinks people in this room are evil and out to get her."

As for Flowers, "He decides for himself there are no rules or he makes the rules...he came with an agenda to disrupt the meeting."

Moore urged the jury to pay attention to the part of the tape where Al Flowers "told a different story" as police arrived, saying something like "No, you pushed ME...don't lie."

Samuels gesture was symbolic and, furthermore, "Mr. Flowers got the point."

"The message was sent and received as between these two individuals," Moore said, coming somewhat close to the Plaintiff's table, where Flowers sat...wilting.

"Don wasn't a government official at the moment he stood in front of Flowers but a courageous individual," Moore argued. Ultimately, the jury would not agree with Moore on this point: they determined Samuels acted "under color of law" in his role as a public official at the point where Samuels stood in front of Flowers.

Focusing on Flowers' disruptive behavior, Moore asked, "Black power...what does that have to do with ANYTHING?"

At that moment, Al Flowers looked back toward the gallery and smiled. It was not clear where Flowers was looking.

"What was SAID is supposedly the reason Don Samuels acted," Moore explained. "No, let's break down their theory."

It's about the city trying to control the neighborhood board? Moore called this a "fanciful claim." No, rather, what this was all about was a simple message, which Don Samuels had articulated out loud during the same press conference: BEHAVE YOURSELF, AL."

Political Commentary By The Oh-So-Charming Al Flowers (Sarcasm Font)

There was a break between Moore's closing statement and that of Jill Clark. Out in the hallway, City Attorney Moore and Don Samuels used the restroom. Experience had taught me the men's room of a federal court building is a little too exciting, so I didn't enter the restroom but, after seeing Don Samuels enter and James Moore leave, I hung by the door for a moment so there wouldn't be a situation with Samuels and Flowers alone, and no bailiff nearby. (Parody font) If Don were at a urinal, after all, he'd have his back turned and what happens when Don has his back turned? Good god, man, it's the Jamaican karate attack position!!! With Jamaican karate (known as "karate-mon") a skilled master can assault an enemy in broad daylight in front of video cameras and get away with it, for he has his back turned the whole time! (End parody font)

At that moment Al Flowers was standing in the hallway. Looking at me, Flowers said, "He's waiting for Don to suck his dick."

How clever, I thought, thinking in the sarcasm font.

North Minneapolis has been, after all, waiting for the exciting sequel to that public access television comment "Kill the house n***er."

Well, here it was:

"He's waiting for Don to suck his dick."

And these were the last words I heard Al Flowers say. The oh-so-charming Al Flowers wouldn't even be around to hear the verdict from the jury, nor would his lawyer.

To Be Continued And Completed In Part Five...


Anonymous said...

LMAO, but the Al 'Just Spit It The Hell Out' Flowers sarcasm quote was too fluent to have come from him.

Anonymous said...

Al Flowers is a great american and I think you may just be jelous of his charm and chrisma. What Al has done for the community you will never match with your hateful spiteful words.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you get some food.

• The House of Charity Food Center, 714 Park Av. S. Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Call 612-333-8968.

• Pepito's Restaurant, 4820 Chicago Av. S. Dinner from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 612-822-2104.

• The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, 1010 Currie Av. Dinner from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 612-338-0113.

• Sharing and Caring Hands, 525 N. 7th St. A meal and accordion music from 10 a.m. to noon. Call 612-338-4640. Contributions can be mailed to P.O. Box 50657, Minneapolis, MN 55405.

• University Lutheran Church of Hope, 601 13th Av. SE., Dinkytown. Dinner at noon. Reservations are appreciated but not required. Call 612-331-5988.

Johnny Northside! said...

Thank you for that comment which had nothing to do with this discussion, but was--perhaps--socially useful.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:17 is hoping Our gal Al doesn't get incarcerated at Shakopee because they would lose their best customer. Smoke on Bro'.