Judge declines to revoke Rebecca Grossman's phone privileges after accusations of misconduct in jail

City News Service
Saturday, March 23, 2024
Judge declines to revoke Rebecca Grossman's phone privileges in jail
A judge rejected the prosecution's request to revoke Rebecca Grossman's privilege to make telephone calls while behind bars.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- A judge Friday rejected the prosecution's request to revoke Rebecca Grossman's privilege to make telephone calls while behind bars following her conviction on murder and other counts for a crash that killed two young boys in Westlake Village.

Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Brandolino cited what he called the defendant's "naivete" involving requests she made during phone calls with her husband, Peter, and daughter, Alexis, shortly after being taken into custody after the jury's verdict Feb. 23.

"I'm not going to restrict any of her privileges," the judge said at the end of the hearing, while warning her that she could still lose her privileges if he determines that she is tampering with a witness in the case.

Grossman is now set to be sentenced June 10 -- a two-month delay from the original April 10 sentencing date -- at the request of the defense, which now includes another law firm retained to handle her motion for a new trial. A hearing is set on that motion June 3.

Grossman -- who has remained jailed without bail since being taken into custody last month -- could face up to 34 years to life in state prison.

In a court filing this week, Deputy District Attorneys Ryan Gould and Jamie Castro contend that Grossman has used the series of phone calls to "engage in wholly improper conduct or potentially illegal conduct."

The prosecutors wrote in their motion that Grossman's recorded phone calls include "admissions to violating the court protective order regarding the disclosure of evidence on the Internet and to the press" and also "document numerous potential criminal conspiracies such as requests to disclose more protected discovery, discussion of various attempts to interfere with witnesses and their testimony and attempts to influence (the judge) in regards to sentencing and motions for a new trial."

Socialite Rebecca Grossman has been found guilty of murder in the 2020 crash in Westlake Village that killed two young brothers, ages 8 and 11.

The prosecutors cited a series of phone calls in which Grossman spoke to her husband, Peter, and her daughter, Alexis, between Feb. 23 and Feb. 25. Those included a Feb. 23 call in which she told her daughter that she wanted her to "unblock the videos" and "put everything out" and another the following day in which asked her husband if a person she identified as "Tom" could call the judge and "ask him to please let us have a new trial," according to the prosecution's filing.

The prosecution had asked the judge to issue a court order that Grossman be housed in a portion of the jail where she has no access to a telephone and is not eligible for calls or visits other than with her attorneys, and that all of her incoming and outgoing mail be screened prior to distribution. The prosecutors contend that the same types of conversations can be conducted through those methods.

One of Grossman's new attorneys, Samuel Josephs, countered that his client was "in shock after the verdict" and is "basically in solitary confinement as it is" with her phone, visitation and mail privileges marking her "only ability to communicate with the outside world."

One of her trial attorneys, John Hobson, said he thought Grossman believed that a court order involving the videos that she wants to be released no longer applied since the jury returned its verdict.

The judge cautioned that the order "still remains in place," and warned Grossman that her privileges could be revoked and that her attorneys could face monetary sanctions and being reported to the State Bar of California if materials that are subject to the protective order wind up being released.

"I think there's a lot of naivete going on here by the defendant," the judge said of Grossman's conduct during one of the phone calls. "She's upset and she's naive ... She's entitled to her beliefs."

Castro disputed the judge's characterization of Grossman as being naive, saying that the defendant has had 10 defense attorneys advising her.

"She should know better, your honor," the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, the judge ordered the defense to destroy any record of personal identifying information of jurors following complaints from several jurors whom the prosecution argued had been approached by a private investigator working for the defense. He ordered the defense not to contact with jurors without filing a motion seeking information about the jurors.