On Tuesday, April 14, Robert Durst was arraigned in New Orleans for federal gun charges. Upon entering, journalists were required to leave the cell phones and any other electronics with a security guard at the door. A kindly police officer explained this to us before the proceedings started. Broadcasting anything, a photograph or a video, from a federal court proceeding is a felony, so we may as well be relieved of the temptation. He reminded us, if somehow we managed to sneak our phones past security, to promptly hand them over. For our own good. “Otherwise you might have Bob Durst as a room mate,” Dick DeGuerin, Bob Durst’s attorney chimed in. Miep swooned at the very thought.
DeGuerin seemed in high spirits. Before the proceedings, he approached me and Miep with some light banter about the rainy weather, and demonstrated that his jacket is reversible, specifically for occasions such as this one. Miep suspects that he’s following her Twitter account.
Before Durst’s arraignment, Judge Lance Africk arraigned Johnny Baham, who could face 3 years and a $250,000 fine for allegedly stealing two $75 gift cards from his mail route. If he’s guilty, that’s a really stupid crime!
When Durst’s time came, he had to be assisted getting up and going to the podium to make his plea. A member of Durst’s legal team told Judge Africk, “He cannot hear out of his left ear so I have to talk into his right ear.”
The judge asked Durst if he could hear him, and Durst replied that he could. Prosecutor Mike McMahon asked Durst if he understood the charges against him, and he replied that he did. But not before asking the prosecutor to identify himself:
“And you are?” A burst of verbal shuffling ensued.
The judge asked, “Do you need me to read your indictment to you?”
Robert Durst replied, “That’s not necessary.” When asked for his plea, he said, “Not guilty,” in a vaguely astonished way, as if the answer were obvious and he couldn’t believe he was being asked the question. This almost aroused a round of laughter in the room.
The judge called recess, and we walked through the rain back to the car, parked so many blocks away. Federal court is in the central business district. It’s frustrating.
By Mikhail K. (U.S. Nero)