Week 5, Day 18

This morning, as I arrived at the courthouse, I was informed that juror number 6 is once again sick. Everyone had the suspicion yesterday that she would not be magically well today, and there was an alternate plan B. The judge had the prosecution’s “So Called” cell phone expert Jim Cook on the stand. This 402 hearing began in an afternoon session last week. The defense wants to limit what he can testify to, and make him just testify to what he can ascertain from the historical cell phone records. The prosecution contends that Mr. Cook should be able to do much more. Nothing much has changed about Jim Cook. He still avoids answering yes or no questions appropriately, and it was apparent to me that Judge Zuniga is becoming agitated over his conduct while on the stand.

Defense attorney Hans Hjertonsson starts out asking Jim Cook the questions. Hans tells Cook that last week he had said there is a 15 to 20 degree overlap between adjacent sectors on a cell phone tower site. Hans gets Cook to admit that he had provided the Stanislaus County DA’s Office with an Excel spread sheet with his analysis, and that he had discussed sector overlap with the DA’s Office. Cook told Hans that between 1995 and 2006 he discussed sector overlap with Naval Patel who worked for AT&T. Cook said that Mr. Patel had told him that there was a 10 to 15 degree overlap. Cook then said that he discussed this topic with AT&T employee Michael Green during the same time period, and that Mr. Green said there was a 10 to 15 degree overlap between sectors, but that this can vary between cell phone sites. Hans tells Cook that he does not mention overlap on a report that he had written. Hans shows Cook the written report. Cook points out a paragraph where he mentions overlap, but did not list how many degrees of overlap are typical. Hans Hjertonsson states that he has been unable to find any peer reviews or brochures that list the degrees of overlap between sectors on a cell phone site. Cook states that he had read this information on brochures from cell phone tower antennae companies. When asked by Hans Hjertonsson if he had one of these brochures with him Cook said that he did not have one. Hans asks Cook to bring this brochure to court if he can find it.

Hans Hjertonsson now asks Jim Cook about a term called horizontal beam width. Cook is familiar with that term, and states that it is typically 60 degrees on both sides of center. Hans states that this would make a total horizontal band width of 120 degrees. Cook states that he checked out the horizontal band width when he prepared his maps of the cell phone towers.

Jim Cook states that he used a protractor and “Eye Balled” the 10 to 15 degree overlaps of the cell phone towers Hans brings in Joint Exhibit B. Cook admits that he did not take into account the cell phone device in his analysis, and that each cell phone tower has a different signal strength. Hans gets Cook to admit that he has absolutely no training as an engineer. At this point, I can see Mr. Cook’s face glowing bright red. It is a familiar sight from what I had seen in the preliminary hearing. Hans Hjertonsson: “Did you discuss impedance with the engineers at AT&T? This question calls for a yes or a no answer. Cook tries to give a narrative answer to this question, and Hans keeps pressing him for a yes or a no answer. Finally Cook says: “No.” I could see Judge Zuniga roll her eyes at Cook. Hans Hjertonsson is now done with his round of questioning.

Defense attorney Percy Martinez takes over asking the questions. Percy points out that Jim Cook has no formal training on impedance. Percy asks Cook if he had read any material concerning impedance since 2006. After trying to avoid a yes or no answer, Cook finally relents, and says: “No.” He is really red now. Percy is now done asking questions.

Marlisa Ferreira starts trying to put lip stick on a pig. The way Cook pooches out his lips makes me think she could use up an entire lip stick on him. Marlisa gets Cook to talk about how the signal strength is the strongest in the center of the sector, and diminishes as it gets further from the center. Marlisa starts getting Cook to talk about sector orientation versus overlap. This really gets technical. Marlisa is now done asking her questions.

Hans Hjertonsson starts asking some more questions. Hans asks more questions concerning the alleged brochures that Cook had read. Cook mentions one from a group called Sensity that he had read. Cook states that he does not have the brochure with him today, but may have one in his office. Cook tells Hans the names of all the cell phone companies that he has worked with. It includes all the ones that most of us are aware of. Hans is now done with Mr. Cook.

Defense attorney Jai Gohel has Jim Cook look at a map that Cook had prepared on the cell phone towers near the Carson property, and Pop N Cork in Turlock. Jai Gohel points to a green dot on the map that corresponds with the Carson property, and how it lies on a line between two different sectors on the S.E. Turlock cell phone tower and the S.E. sector. Jai Gohel asks Cook if the overlap on this would be 10 degrees, or 15 degrees, or something in between. Cook answers that it would be in between 10 degrees and 15 degrees. Jai Gohel states that Jim Cook should not be able to discuss overlap degrees concerning the Carson property because of this variance in possible overlap. Jim Cook is now allowed to step down from the stand. It is now time for our 11:00AM break.

After our break, we resume with the 402 hearing at 11:17AM. Hans Hjertonsson states that Jim Cook should only be allowed to speak about the basics. Hans talks about some case law concerning someone named Garringer. Hans states that Cook should not be allowed to speak on specific coverage areas of the sectors concerning Pop N Cork Liquors and 838 Ninth St. because the green dot mentioned earlier is on the cusp of overlap, and there is no scientific consensus that overlaps between cell phone sectors are between 10 degrees and 15 degrees. Hans states that Cook had testified earlier that there was an overlap of 5 degrees and 15 degrees. Hans Hjertonsson states that Jim Cook should not be able to testify about specific locations on the Carson property, and that he should not be able to testify about impedance. Hans starts talking about line of site, and points out that there is no line of site between cell phones in the courtroom and the cell phone towers that they are connecting with. Hans states that Jim Cook can’t specify his sources of knowledge. Hans states that he fully expects Marlisa Ferreira to point to the Carson property and have Jim Cook say what sectors cell phones would connect to. Hans states that Cook uses protractors and eye balling to make his analysis, and can’t specify whether the overlap is 10, 15, or another number of degrees with certainty. Hans states that Cook has testified that unknown factors can cause the overlap to vary.

Hans Hjertonsson states that Jim Cook should not be able to testify about supposed movement of cell phones, and that he should not be able to specify what tower and sector a cell phone was connected to when inside a structure at Pop N Cork Liquors or at 838 9th Street. He states that both of these locations are inside overlap areas, and that these connections can vary. Hans stresses that Jim Cook has no expertise that would allow him to do so.

Defense attorney Percy Martinez joins the arguments just presented by Hans Hjertonsson. He states that when he asked Cook about his knowledge on impedance, that Cook gave vague answers about who he had talked to regarding impedance. Percy states that the cell phone industry has changed vastly in the last ten years, and that Jim Cook has no formal education. Percy Martinez states that Jim Cook could not recall any conversations concerning impedance in the last ten years. Percy states that Jim Cook should not be able to testify on impedance in this trial.

Marlisa Ferreira goes into a very well thought out rebuttal of the defense’s arguments. She seemed to me to be very well prepared on this argument. She goes over how not all industries require a college education. She mentions cyber security as one such industry. She goes over the four companies that Jim Cook has owned and managed since 1986, and how he has learned his trade. Marlisa speaks about how Jim Cook is an instructor on the technology itself and had taught POST classes to law enforcement personnel on the subject of cell phones. She states that Jim Cook has been qualified as an expert in over 100 cases, and is widely accepted as an expert. Marlisa goes over an example of how Jim Cook could map the movement of a cell phone while it was traveling between Turlock and Modesto. Marlisa states that his testimony can be evaluated by the jury, and that they can determine if it is reliable. She goes over case law. She mentions the U.S. vs Elima, U.S. vs Jones, the People vs Garlinger, and the U.S. vs Evans. It appears to me that the case law that she has cited supports her arguments. I do not anticipate a favorable ruling for the defense with regard to this 402 hearing. We are now done with the morning session. I will be there in the morning to report on what I observe.

Sincerely; William Thomas Jensen (Tom)


One comment

  1. Jim Cook is nothing more than a cell phone salesman. To be good in your field of employment on the job training is very good but to be really successful and know what you are taking about you need to continue with education to learn the new aspects of your field. Things don’t sit still in this world and new and improved things happen and will continue to happen so you can’t expect to read a brochure and think this will bring you up to date. Cook is a wanabe and tries to come off like he is an expert. That is a big NO YOUR NOT. Sure he teaches classes and trains people but these people are being taught out dated material . I learned how to use a protractor in the 3rd grade not a big deal my 3 year old granddaughter would have no problem using one.

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