You can find links to all of CRIME STORY’S coverage of the Robert Durst trial here.


Today, we reported on a readiness hearing for the resumption of the murder trial of Robert Durst. During the hearing, Durst surprisingly asked to speak to the Judge. Below we present audio and transcript of those proceedings.


Judge Mark E. Windham:

The People of the State of California versus Robert Durst. On the phone, we have Mr. DeGuerin, Mr. Chesnoff, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Re. For the people in person, Mr. Lewin, Mr. Balian, Milius, Mr. Miyata Mr. Henderson. The Court conferred telephonically with all parties on August 7th, December 2nd, March 3rd and March 10th. 

The Court informed counsel that pursuant to People versus Gray, the jurors have been admonished periodically regarding their obligations to avoid media accounts and not converse about the case on eight separate occasions during the adjournment. The parties have agreed that due to pandemic related concerns affecting the defendant, and especially his counsel, there’s good cause for adjournment until May 17th, 2021. Defense counsel sought further delay until June 1 and objected to convincing sooner. But balancing the factors identified in California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332(c) and (d), the Court will overrule that objection and hereby order the trial to commence with jurors on May 17th in Inglewood, Department 1. And Mr. Durst, you’ve consented in writing to the further delay and waived any right you may have to resume on April 12th. Is this your signature I have before me? 

Stephanie Ames:

Bob. Bob, did you hear the Judge? The waiver that you signed on Friday… Is that your signature? 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Is that your signature on the document, Mr. Durst. Please answer out loud. 

Stephanie Ames:

Bob, you need to answer out loud. 

Robert Durst:

I can’t read it from here.

Stephanie Ames,

And your honor, so the court is aware… Mr. Durst has recently been seen by the ear specialist and they say that he’s having problems with the hearing aids. Uh, so it’s very difficult for him to hear 

Robert Durst:

Yes, this is my signature. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

And, uh, and do you agree to waive any rights you have to begin on April 12th and start on May 17th instead? Yes? 

Stephanie Ames:

Do you agree to start on May 17, Bob? 

Robert Durst:

I agree to start on May 17.

Judge Mark E. Windham (03:02):

Very good. Then a time is waived. The body attachment for Doug Oliver is held until May 17th. The court will order a hearing on the issue of remote testimony on April 12th in Inglewood, Department 1. The defendant is ordered to appear. Is there a stipulation on the testimony of Detective Struk? 

John Lewin:

Yes, your honor. Mr. Balian is handling that. So I have stipulations number 57 and 58, but I’ve just received… 

Habib Balian:

Yes. So, uh, uh, all counsel are on the line. Due to the short timeframe we had, I believe only Mr. DeGuerin actually signed it, which I believe is adequate. If it’s acceptable with the court, but I want to make sure all counsel agree with stipulations 57 and 58, which we filed today. 

David Chesnoff:

This is David Chesnoff speaking for Chip Lewis and myself. We agree. 

Don Re:

Don Re. I agree. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Very good. Yes. Mr. Bailey.

Habib Balian:

Mr. DeGuerin, and Mr. Re and Mr. Lewis and Mr. Chesnoff… Habib Balian. . After Dick signed 57, when I printed it out, I noticed a typo on page 10 where it said, exhibits 90 through 96. It should have been a 91 through 96. I corrected the typo, if that’s okay with you guys? 

Don Re:

This is Don Ray. It’s fine. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

All right. Thank you, Mr. Re. Did counsel wish to make any further record on the request for further delay? 

David Chesnoff:

Your honor, this is David Chesnoff on the phone on behalf of Mr. Durst. Um, as we informed the Court and the People we will be filing a motion, consistent with our prior mistrial motions, based on the length of time between the last time the jury heard evidence and, and the scheduled returned on May 17th, and we will submit that to the Court, shortly. And in addition, your honor, since we’ve been on hiatus, the Ninth Circuit entered a decision on a case which had in our opinion impact on this proceeding, and we waited to see whether or not a rehearing of bond was granted. It was not, and we will be filing a motion, regarding a legal issue raised by this Ninth Circuit court, as it impacts, the present setting of the case. And so we would ask the Court permission if the People are good with it, we’ll get it on file quickly. And maybe we can hear that on April 12th as well? 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Uh, sure. We could hear it. Assuming you give adequate notice to the people. I’ve got no problem with you making a case as to the circumstances as they stand at the moment we resume the trial. I don’t think the legal principles will change at all. 

David Chesnoff:

I understand your honor, this, this motion, the second motion I’m talking about is really a separate issue. It’s not, it’s not the same thing as the basis for seeking a mistrial based on the length of time. It has to do with a Ninth Circuit law that is now developed, uh, specifically dealing with a California Supreme Court case and a California homicide case, which we think the court will, um, be interested in reading. And we’re hopeful we’ll get the relief we’re seeking, but we’ll get it on file quickly. Now, the Ninth Circuit… the rehearing and bonded denial just happened a little while ago. So we wanted to be sure before we filed, um, that there wasn’t going to be any more action in the case. So thank you, your honor. 

John Lewin:

We would just like, since this is the first we’ve heard of it, if they could give us the case citation so we can look at it in advance of getting their motion. That would be… 

David Chesnoff:

I’m going to get it filed quickly, John. So you’ll see it. There’s a lot of cases cited.

John Lewin:

If you can just let us know what this Ninth Circuit case is, give me the name of the case. So, um, I’m not delayed in reviewing it, just the case you’re talking about.

David Chesnoff:

No problem. I’ll do that. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

All right. Is there anything else… any other record that people needed to make on any of these issues? 

Habib Balian:

Yes, I was being told by someone who was paying closer attention than myself that, um, Mr. DeGuerin didn’t get a chance — I might’ve interrupted him — to agree to the stipulations on the record. And then the court, if the court would indicate whether you accept the stipulations. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Mr. DeGuerin, do you? 

Dick DeGuerin:

I’m sorry. I didn’t completely understand what Mr. Balian said. 

Habib Balian:

Oh, I don’t think we were able to get on the record that you agree with the stipulations 57 and 58. 

Dick DeGuerin:

Yes I’ve signed them.

Habib Balian:

Okay, great. Fantastic. And will the court accept them? 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

I do accept the stipulations.

Habib Balian:

Thank you.

John Lewin:

Your honor, a couple of issues that we have. The first issue is we have filed a reply, which I assume the court is in possession of this morning for the reply to the remote testimony issue. I’ve also given that to counsel. The second issue is I would assume then that since Mr. Durst has agreed to waive time that any issue regarding “an objection” we seem to have kind of an inconsistent position. And because I don’t know what potential relief they’re going to potentially looking at is my position, our position, your honor, that with Mr. Durst waiving time, that issue has now been decided. There is no objection that can be offered in essence, either they object to the delay and Mr. Durst objects to the delay, or they don’t. So they’ve made… 

Dick DeGuerin:

This is not a universal waiver. We have been consistent in objecting to the length of time that the jury has been at recess and at large, and we will continue to object to that. This waiver does not address that at all. 

David Chesnoff:

One additional thing, your honor. We can start on May 17th with a new jury selection. That’s what we’re asking for. So we’re not saying that we won’t start on May 17th. We’re just going to make a record as to why we think or how we think it should start. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

One man’s contradiction is another man’s dilemma. It just depends on how you look at it. You can argue it.

John Lewin:

The last thing to put on the record… We discussed…. The Court had authorized one to two hour opening statements on May 17th. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Yeah.

John Lewin:

The Court had also agreed agreed and instructed that counsel on both sides are to provide the slides they will be using, um, in a PowerPoint, if it is utilized… 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Any visuals. I want to see any visuals and I will not allow any presentation of evidence. You may simply, uh, present an opening statement, reiterating what the jury has seen and what they can expect to see in the balance of the trial. 

John Lewin:

Right. And that, and that is due according to the Court on May 10th. Is that correct, your Honor? 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Yes. That is correct. Okay. Anything else? Ms. Ames, thank you joining the defense team so that they didn’t have to travel to Los Angeles this morning. I appreciate your coming in. 

Stephanie Ames:

Happy to help your honor.

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Anything else? Then Defendant is ordered to return on April 12th for the hearing on remote testimony will be in Inglewood in Department 1.

David Chesnoff:

Your Honor, will we be able to appear remotely that day as well?

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Uh, yes. Yes, you may, Mr. Chesnoff.

Dave Chesnoff:

Thanks Your Honor? 

John Lewin:

Your Honor, Am I correct… There was a little bit of a question… It’s my understanding the jurors will not be present on April 12th. The first time the jurors will be coming in will be May 17th? 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Yes, we will so inform them and also I continue to admonish them consistent with what we’ve done under People versus Gray 

David Chesnoff:

Stay well, everyone. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Yes. Anything else? 

John Lewin:

No, thank you, Your Honor. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Yeah. Take care everyone. 

Robert Durst:

Your Honor…

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Yes. Yes, Mr. Durst. 

Robert Durst:

Two months ago I mailed you a letter. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Two months ago you mailed me a  letter? I did not receive the letter. 

Robert Durst:

Two weeks ago the letter was returned to me. May I give you the letter now? The letter was returned to me stamped with: “Return to Sender. Insufficient address.”

Judge Mark E. Windham:

My apologies.

Robert Durst:

May I give you the letter here?

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Ms. Ames, will you, will you look at that letter and see if it’s appropriate for me to receive it? Anything that I received goes into the court file and is shared with all parties. 

Stephanie Ames:

I understand your honor. Um, I believe his team is actually going to address this issue. I am aware of the letter. I have advised Mr. Durst against reading the letter or providing it to court for the reasons you’ve just stated. I believe that Mr. DeGuerin has discussed the letter with Mr. Durst and otherwise I’ll let the team address the issue. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Very well. And Counsel, I’ll invite Counsel, it has something to do with his conditions or circumstances that may be appropriately addressed ex parte… But if you give me a letter, I am going to put it in the court file. So I, I think you’re probably wise Mr. Durst to trust Ms. Ames on this. I’m sure she’ll communicate every single idea that you have in that letter, to me, in a way that couldn’t couldn’t harm you in any legal sense. Alright. 

John Lewin:

And obviously, your honor, if the letter relates to issues regarding Mr. Durst’s housing or medical needs, those are properly dealt with ex parte. If they instead relate to issues involving the trial, then obviously we believe that we’re going to have a right to, to see that. So I just want to make sure there’s no review of such materials if we are not provided opportunity to observe as well.

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Thank you, Mr. Lewin. I will be mindful of that. 

John Lewin:

Mr. Durst was starting to say something, your honor, when I was speaking and I could hear over, I don’t know if the Court could. 

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Is that all Ms. Ames? Thank you and we’ll see Mr. Durst on April 12>

Robert Durst:

The letter has to do with stipulation 45.

Judge Mark E. Windham:

Okay. Well, it is a legal issue apparently. And so, um, I have not received the letter. If I do. I’ll share it. Thank you. 

Don Re:

Thank you very much, Your Honor. Stay well.

Judge Mark E. Windham:

You too.