The twists, there are several! I was pretty certain at the start of the case that I would end up siding with the plaintiff. I figured, if someone's given a Three-Day Notice to quit or pay, and they don't pay, they should probably quit.
But what if the Three-Day notice is handed to a kid? And the mom doesn't see it for a day or two afterwards?
And what if an attempt to pay is made within the proper time-frame, but is refused?
And what if a money-order is sent by mail to an incorrect name or address, but doesn't get sent back until 14 days later (complete with a lawsuit), before the family even knows the rent was never received? What if the envelope has three different types of handwriting on it, for unexplained reasons?
And what if the owner has supposedly been paying other tenants to leave, so that now only 4 out of 10 units are occupied in the building, because he'd rather evict everyone, renovate, and sell the place?
And what if the defendant/tenant has been paying the gas bill this whole time, when the owner's supposed to be paying it (this is particularly relevant in a rent-controlled building, where the allowed percentage of rent raised on an annual basis is contingent on payment of utilities)?
WHAT IF THE APARTMENT IS FILLED WITH COCKROACHES AND MICE?
Also, keep in mind that several of the witnesses for the defense don't speak English, so we're treated to an interpreter's, er, interpretation of emotions displayed on the stand. The harried interpreter was pretty deadpan, which made for some strange disconnects.
One witness, who was sort of a drama king and apparently hadn't been asked by EITHER side to testify, decided to show up anyway and asserted that his apartment, located directly above the defendant's, was filled with "chinches."
We soon learned through the translation that "chinches" means "bedbugs." (How freaking specialized of a translator do you have to be to know the term "bedbugs" in multiple languages??)
Also, all of the above critters made it to court in plastic bags/rat traps as exhibits for evidence. It was gross.
The second day of the trial was pretty cool because MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown L.A., lets jurors in for free. Most of wandered over there during our lunch hour-and-a-half, and the deli there was terrific, too.
Here is a (cellphone) picture of the museum at lunch, followed by the Disney Concert Hall, which was where jurors parked for the day.
Next time: Closing statements, deliberations, and a verdict...