Reiser outburst rebuked by judge
By Jeff Shuttleworth
January 30, 2008
Hans Reiser was rebuked by the judge in his murder trial Tuesday
after he pointed at the judge and questioned the competence of
his defense lawyer.
In a wild session at the end of the day outside the presence
of jurors, Reiser, a 44-year-old computer engineer accused of
murdering his estranged wife Nina, told Alameda County Superior
Court Judge Larry Goodman that he objected to a stipulation his
attorney, William DuBois, had reached with prosecutor Paul Hora.
The stipulation, announced in open court in front of jurors,
was that although Nina Reiser's mother currently has custody of
the couple's two children and is raising them in Russia, the matter
is still under appeal.
After the jury went home for the day, Reiser, who frequently
held up his hand in court so he could get Goodman's attention,
told the judge that such a stipulation isn't acceptable to him
because "it's still an issue as to whether U.S. courts have
lost jurisdiction over the children completely" because they
are in Russia.
When Reiser continued to press his argument and pointed at Goodman,
the judge angrily told him, "Mr. Reiser, if you point your
finger at me again and use that tone with me you're going to be
in serious trouble."
A few minutes later, after Reiser demanded to be allowed to examine
all the evidence in the case and be given an I-pod in jail so
he can listen to police interviews, Goodman said it sounded like
Reiser was questioning DuBois' competence and asked Reiser point-blank,
"Do you want to fire your attorney?"
Goodman said, "You can fire him any time, but that won't
stop your trial" and said that if Reiser dismissed DuBois
and co-counsel Richard Tamor he'd have to be ready to act as his
own attorney today..
Reiser complained that the judge wasn't giving him "a realistic
alternative" to have time to get a new lawyer and said he'll
continue with DuBois.
Hans Reiser is accused of murdering Nina Reiser, who was 31 when
she disappeared on Sept. 3, 2006, after she dropped off the couple's
children at his house at 6979 Exeter Drive in the Oakland hills.
Nina's body has never been found, despite extensive searches
in the Oakland hills and elsewhere, but prosecutors charged Hans
with murdering her because they believe that DNA and blood evidence
proves that he killed her.
The couple married in 1999 but Nina filed for divorce and separated
from Hans in 2004. They were in the midst of an acrimonious divorce
and a battle over the custody of their children, Rory and Nio,
when she disappeared.
Hans Reiser has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
DuBois has said he thinks that Nina Reiser may still be alive
and be in hiding in Russia, where she was raised and where she
was trained as a physician.
Hans Reiser's outburst yesterday came after Alameda County Social
Services investigator Seng Fong testified about a lengthy series
of court hearings over the fate of the couple's children, who
were removed from his custody on Sept. 8, 2006, only five days
after Nina disappeared.
Fong said a final ruling that approved placing the children with
Nina's mother in Russia wasn't made until March 28, following
about 15 court hearings on the matter.
After court adjourned, DuBois said he thinks the lengthy discussion
about the custody of the children put Reiser in a bad mood.
The defense lawyer noted that Reiser had a similar outburst on
Nov. 15, when Rory, his 8 year-old son, testified and he demanded
to be allowed to ask him questions.
At the end of the day, DuBois had a private conversation with
Reiser, who was guarded by a bailiff, in a stairway outside Goodman's
When DuBois emerged, he smiled and said, "It was a nice
conciliatory meeting" and he plans to be back in court Wednesday
morning and continue as Reiser's lawyer.
Goodman told jurors earlier yesterday that Hora hopes to finish
presenting the prosecution's case by the end of next week.
Goodman said DuBois will begin presenting the defense's case
on Feb. 11. He said the defense case will only take a week or
less, unless Reiser testifies, a major strategic issue that the
defense hasn't yet resolved.
Goodman said that if Reiser doesn't testify, closing arguments
will be held the week of Feb. 18 and jury deliberations will begin
the week of Feb. 25.
If Reiser testifies, those dates will be pushed back about a
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