Swedes, Fort Rucker, Oysters, Los Angeles and more StrangeTrial Delays

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18, 2006 -- It seems there are connections to Alabama all over the country.  But who would have guessed one of the interpreters contracted by the court to interpret for "Ferrari Guy" Sefan Eriksson had a past connection with Lower Alabama.

In a conversation during a break in the lengthy jury selection process, believe it or not we now have a jury, I had a chance to talk with Hanne Mintz, who spent a little time back in the mid '60s in the Ozark area.

Mintz's then fiance, Burt spent a semester at Fort Rucker teaching aerospace safety at the Army Aviation Center.

Hanne says after he went off on his own, she got lonely in Los Angeles and got in a car and drove herself to Fort Rucker.

She says the time in 1966 was "a great introduction to the South...different from what I had learned in Sweden before before I came to the states and spent some wonderful weeks there."

She says there were a lot of tensions, but people were very friendly.  She says driving to Fort Rucker she still had the Swedish habit of knocking on people's doors to see if they had a room to rent.  "And people would say, yeah, sure, you want to sleep on the couch or they put up a cot for me on their porch.  I met some wonderful people, ate with them and gave them some money and I just didn't know you weren't supposed to do stuff like that."

Burt had rented a house in Daleville and Hanne was in for a little bit of culture shock when she first arrived.

"First of all I found out that Dale County was a dry county (back then)which posed some problems because we want a glass of wine once in a while, and beers and we had to leave the county.  We did find out though that we could buy alcohol in Dale County from the local bootleggers if we could find out who they were.  So we found out.  No one's being incriminated as this was many years ago."

She says Burt couldn't wait to show her his "new town" and they went exploring together.  Hanne says her favorite towns were Dothan and Ozark.

Hanne got her introduction to other things in the area as well.  "In Dothan I had my first wonderful dose of catfish and hush puppies and explored the beautiful ante bellum buildings..."In Ozark I had my first dose of oysters.  The train would come up from the Gulf and move slowly through town and as it approached this little restaurant where we sat , they threw a box of oysters off the side of the train and everyone went scrambling outside to get the oysters and shuck them and we had freshly shucked oysters and hush puppies.  I had never eaten hush puppies like that before

Burt and Hanne struck up a relationship with a chaplain at Fort Rucker, who also happened to be the Jewish rabbi in Dothan.  She says they visited him and his family often.  "It was an interesting, bizarre kind of thing going to visit a rabbi in Dothan, while we were in Daleville."

My husband went to Georgia Tech so we have a great deal of fondness for the South anyway.

She couldn't believe she found someone else from Dothan in the L.A. courtroom, that of course being attorney Jim Parkman.  Hanne says Parkman is a good change of pace for the place.

"Oh he's a hoot, I think we need a little injection of good old Southern humor here anyway.  We get a little full of ourselves here in L.A. so it's kind of fun getting a little fresh blood in."

It is indeed, a small world.

Speaking of Parkman, opening statements were due to happen today during a limited court day, but of course, that did not happen again.

Court got a late start, due to the judge dealing with other cases and when it did get going things promptly adjourned to the back for almost an hour at which time Judge Schnegg  brought in the jury and told them they would have a short day and not have to come back until 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Apparently a witness for the government was involved in an accident in the United Kingdom of a rather serious nature, thus setting the trial schedule into more chaos.  The parties have agreed now, at least on the record, to take the part of the case having to do with the DUI and do opening statements, present that evidence and then later move on to the theft and embezzlement counts against Mr. Eriksson.  It's one of the strangest things I've ever seen.  The judge indicated there would be two opening statements, one for the DUI counts and one for the other counts.

Also, everyone having to do with the case has turned into a clam.  Terse no comments were given after today's events.  One of two things, everyone was having a bad day or there's been instructions not to talk, or I've just made everyone in the courthouse mad.  Take your pick.

This case is incredibly approaching the realm of the Twilight Zone.  There's only one guarantee there will be more unusual occurences before it's over.   Unfortunately, I won't get to witness them all.  Our final report from the trial will be after events conclude on Friday.