I sat in Superior Court today and witnessed the Marion "Suge" Knight hearing as it unfolded. There were many journalists there who are unaware of the historic ties into the fabric of Los Angeles that Knight and David Kenner possess. The history of Suge and Kenner is the history of Death Row Records. The history of Death Row Records is the history of Los Angeles. They are all intertwined.
Now Suge Knight is being held in the murder of Terry Carter and attempted murder of Cle "Bone Sloan during an argument that broke out on the Set of "Straight Outta Compton" and continued at a hamburger restaurant parking lot near the set. Suge Night has pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charges.
Sitting in the hall was the beginning of my observations today. Kenner arrived and requested to meet with his client. He was granted entry into the courtroom early and was able to see Marion Suge Knight ahead of time in one of the adjoining conference rooms. We were brought in and seated in the journalist section of the courtroom. There were approximately 20 journalists there to witness and write about the hearing. Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes represented the District Attorney’s Office. While we were waiting for the hearing to begin there was a meeting of Miss Barnes and David Kenner in one of the adjoining conference rooms. This meeting lasted for about 20 minutes. It is unknown what was discussed in this meeting.
There were a number of motions heard and ruled on by the court today. The bail hearing was continued to March 20th. Most of the motions seemed to be procedural but the one that was surprising to me was a motion to allow Mr. Knight's personal physician to visit him. Here the judge ruled against Mr. Knight citing that the County and Sheriff's Department had competent personnel to examine Mr. Knight - the judge denied access by Knight to his personal physician.
By March 20th most of the discovery should be complete and the clear picture of this case should be upon us.
But let's take a look at attorney David Kenner who is a legend in the criminal defense business. Kenner was Tupac Shakur's attorney for over a year. He also represented Snoop Dogg during Snoop's trial for murder. Kenner also represented Michael "Harry-O" Harris, Suge Knight, and Barry Minkow.
Kenner was at the beginning of Death Row Records. He brokered the deal to fund the original investment for the record label from Michael "Harry-O" Harris. He was part of the appeal to musicians with legal problems to sign with Death Row. Kenner represented Suge for his assault of George and Lynwood Stanely. Kenner successfully kept the case from going to trial and he negotiated a plea deal that put Suge on Probation instead of doing time in prison. Kenner was listed originally as Suge's legal counsel on his probation violation in 1996 after the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur. Sometime in 1997 citing health reasons Kenner was removed from the case. Kenner and Suge have been reunited during this current trial.
What can we expect? My take is that this case will never go to trial - especially with David Kenner as Suge Knight's attorney. During today's hearing Miss Barnes stated that she felt the trial would only last 2 weeks. The evidence is pretty cut and dried. The prosecution is asking for 25 years to life in prison, if there was a plea arrangement reached where Suge agreed to 10 years in prison and actually served 5 there would be a deal struck. There is way too much sediment to stir up with so many ties into the history of Los Angeles. Neither side wants to stir up the past.
Michael Douglas Carlin is the author of Tupac:187 about the murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace. He is also the director of the movies Luvicide and American Federale. Recently he completed a ten-year stint as the Publisher and Editor of the Century City News. Here his articles turned into three books: Rise a Knight, A Prescription for Peace, and Peaceful Protests. Carlin's family founded lighting and grip company Keylite PSI that supplied equipment on Ordinary People, The Untouchables, Boyz In The Hood, Platoon, JFK, Reservoir Dogs, and hundreds of other feature films and thousands of hours of television. For many years Carlin ran the family business and managed independent studios. He worked also in the entertainment industry as an actor, lighting technician, grip, cameraman, production manager, producer, and director. Carlin also published The Entertainment Funding Sourcebook, The Studio White Pages, and Media and Entertainment Institutional Investors.
Follow Michael Douglas Carlin on Twitter @MichaelDCarlin