The court session was only a few minutes old when Superior Court Judge Lance Ito felt the first repercussions of his decision to give a TV interview.
The media-wary judge asked an alternate jury prospect Monday if she had seen any reports about the O.J. Simpson case. She had - a preview during "Murder, She Wrote" about Ito's five-part interview on KCBS-TV."Well, it's sweeps week," Ito said, referring to the TV rating period when competition is most intense.
The woman was told to return Dec. 5 with the other prospective alternate jurors who survive challenges for legal cause. A jury of eight women and four men already has been selected.
Also Monday, Ito denied a defense request to toss out evidence seized from Simpson's Ford Bronco.
Neither Ito nor attorneys in the case would comment further on the judge's interview, which was an issue because of Ito's vehement criticism of the media.
He has repeatedly rebuked the media for what he called irresponsible reporting. He threatened to remove the courtroom camera after an erroneous KNBC-TV report in September that Nicole Brown Simpson's blood had been found on a sock in her ex-husband's home. He also complained about close-up pictures of prospective jurors and a newspaper's publication of contents of a blank jury questionnaire.
On October 24, when a prospective juror said that "the media has done a lot of good," Ito replied, "What have they done that's good? What possible thing could that be?"
KCBS is touting the Ito interview with a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times promising such highlights as: "Living in the spotlight of the trial of the century," "Will the pressures of a big trial change his career?" and "A trial like no other in history. What does it mean to serve as a jurist?"
In the first segment of the interview, which aired Sunday, Ito discussed the World War II internment of his Japanese-American parents.