Sean "Puffy" Combs' trial on charges of weapons possession began today with a fifteen-minute court session during which the prosecution, defense and Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon prepared for jury selection, which will begin after January 15th.
After months of criticism from assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, who is prosecuting the case, over his tardiness, Combs arrived unaccompanied at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan at 9:45 a.m., fifteen minutes before the trial's start time, entering the courtroom before his counsel (attorneys Benjamin Brafman and Johnnie Cochran) as well as the prosecution. At 10 a.m. Combs was joined by defendents Jamal "Shyne" Barrow and Anthony Jones and their attorneys for the brief appearance.
Despite a New York Post report Friday morning that anticipated that the court date would be a "dirty laundry day" for Combs, with prosecutors "poised to discuss at length the music mogul's bad-boy past," the actual proceedings proved to be quite calm and uneventful.
Judge Solomon was quick to establish that the trial was officially active and warned all participants against speaking about courtroom matters in public. "No comment with regards to the subject matter of this case is to be made outside of this courtroom," the judge ordered. Solomon stressed that such breaches were capable of tainting potential jurors, thus making the selection process more difficult.
In scheduling the next court dates, Brafman asked that jury selection not begin next Monday as initially anticipated, but rather the following week. Brafman suggested that by settling a few unresolved issues before jury selection, the length of the trial might be better contained, as well as allowing the court proceedings to go uninterrupted by the January 15th observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All defense counsel, as well as Bogdanos, agreed with the proposal. Solomon acknowledged the issue and set a January 11th court date for discussion of jury selection, with the actual selection to begin after January 15th.
As for Barrow, he was asked to appear in court on January 10th, without Combs and Jones, to resolve some outstanding issues unique to his case. Barrow's attorney Murray Richman asked to screen his client from certain cross-examination by Bogdanos in the event that he should be called to the stand. Richman was particularly concerned by the possibility of Bogdanos' use of Barrow's lyrics from his album Shyne in his questioning. Solomon asked Richman to further elaborate on his argument and plans to conclude the matter next Wednesday.
The case stems from a December 27th incident in which three people were shot inside Club New York, a Manhattan nightclub. Combs and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones, who fled the scene in a Ford Explorer that was stopped by New York City police, were charged with weapons possession, while Barrow was charged with attempted murder.