No doubt without a good night’s sleep for months and under a considerable amount of pressure, the two sides in the Jesse James Hollywood trial continued to spar Wednesday, with prosecutor Joshua Lynn accusing defense co-counsel of calling him a derogatory name, while the defense asked Judge Brian Hill to have Lynn stop using editorializing comments.
While the subject had been broached more than once prior, Hill came down harder on the two sides Wednesday morning, in the midst of testimony by Jesse James Hollywood, who is facing the death penalty for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz.
It was a tense but almost humorous morning as the two sides went back and forth before the jury entered the room for the day’s testimony. First, defense attorney James Blatt stood and told Hill he was “concerned about some actions of the district attorney.” Constant commenting, sarcasm, and editorializing, he said, “destroys the decorum and dignity of this case,” especially at such a critical time with his client on the stand.
After being admonished to keep his comments to a minimum in front of the jury, Lynn stood and told the judge that on three separate instances, defense co-counsel Alex Kessel “loudly called me a dickhead,” and that he could call a witness to the stand to prove it.
Kessel, who certainly can often be heard whispering to Hollywood and Blatt at the defense table – though it hasn’t been clear to audience members what he is saying – immediately took issue, though Hill put an end to it immediately. “We’re not going to have a debate,” he said, going further to tell Kessel to “keep your voice down.”
During a mid-morning break, Hill once again admonished both sides to keep the “snipping and comments back and forth” out of the case. “The criminal justice system on a whole is on trial, not just Mr. Hollywood,” Hill said, noting the constant presence of the media in the courtroom.
Later Wednesday, Lynn asked Hollywood if he ever said that he was going to physically assault Ben Markowitz, older brother to the deceased. Hollywood responded he may have. Lynn followed that question by asking if Hollywood would “ever say you’d go toe-to-toe with him?” and then looked over at Kessel with a sly grin on his face. Whether intentional or not, Lynn had referenced a time weeks earlier in the trial when Kessel, after Lynn complained about repeated objections from the defense about his questioning, said he’d “be happy to go toe-to-toe” with Lynn in arguing. In that lawyer scrap, Blatt then followed up by asking the judge if Lynn was planning on “editorializing every time we object,” to which Lynn replied, “Only when it’s improper.”