Jurors Share Concerns About ‘Money-Digging’ Homeless Man in Seau Suit

Judge will quiz “Moose” Lea during trial, fearing he’ll mention barred topics as his own attorney.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 4, 2012

More than 50 people were quizzed about their attitudes on Junior Seau, lawsuits and a slew of other topics as jury selection began Tuesday in Murray Lea’s personal-injury suit against the estate of the late NFL star.

Several potential jurors told Judge Gonzalo Curiel in downtown San Diego Superior Court that they thought Lea—a homeless surfboard-maker living out of his RV in Carlsbad—was looking for a big payday on a “trumped-up lawsuit.”

“I still have a bias that he’s money-digging,” said one juror.

“I felt like he’s just trying to do this because of Mr. Seau’s name,” said another about the case filed in late June 2011—some 10 months before the former Chargers star committed suicide in his Oceanside home.

But a man in his 20s—who later was excused to take care of an ailing grandfather—said he had concerns about big-name athletes always having their way.

And a man who appeared to be in his 50s said: “I already have a big [view] against powerful moneyed interests,” such as celebrities.

One juror asked: “If [Lea] has such a good case, why is he representing himself?”

Judge Curiel saluted jury pool members for their honesty, but also asked each whether they could still hear the case fairly, setting aside biases.  Virtually all said yes—after each signaled they knew about the star athlete.

“We need to have jurors who keep their hands off the scales” of justice, Curiel told the diverse group packing Department 60 of the Hall of Justice on Broadway.

He ordered them to return to court at 9 a.m. Wednesday to continue voir dire, the selection process that concludes with Lea and defendant attorney Rayna Stephan each excusing as many as six people each.

Curiel said 12 jurors would hear the case, along with two alternates, and nine would have to agree on a verdict—in contrast to a unanimous one in a criminal case.

Before the 54 potential jurors filed into court a little after 2 p.m., however, Curiel said he had decided to ask questions of Lea—rather than let the nonlawyer carry his own case.

Curiel said this step was calculated to prevent Lea from accidentally bringing up topics the judge had ruled off-limits—such as the fact Lea contends that he’s only suing Farmers Insurance Group (represented by Stephan), had turned down a settlement offer of $4,000 and had filed dozens of pages of medical and chiropractor receipts as proof of his injuries.

Stephan objected to Curiel’s decision, saying such judge-questioning should be reserved for minors and people in conservatorship—and would signal to a jury that the judge was siding with the plaintiff.

“The court spent half the morning on areas to stay away from,” Stephan said. “[Lea] is able to comprehend what the court orders are.”

But Curiel cited a 1971 case in which a pro per—a person representing himself—was asked questions by a judge as a way of avoiding a prejudiced trial.

“It is a process that’s calculated to ensure … that the case is decided on the merits,” Curiel said, and overruled her objection.

Lea, who told the court he couldn’t afford to buy lunch, confirmed the judge’s concerns by asking: “I can’t say I’m not suing the family or the kids?”

He later asked: “Can I tell people about my incredible website and what’s on it? Then let’s go!”

Curiel said the trial phase would likely last into Thursday.

Original story:

Patiently explaining rules of evidence, a Superior Court judge Tuesday barred homeless surfboard-maker Murray “Moose” Lea from entering medical records and insurance information into his $256,000 personal-injury trial against the estate of Junior Seau.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel in downtown San Diego Superior Court sustained virtually every objection made by defense attorney Rayna Stephan—mostly on the basis of their being hearsay.

Among them was Lea’s contention that a lady friend of Seau had called him five days after the NFL star’s May 2 suicide to say Seau had been disappointed in an October 2010 accident in which he drove off a Carlsbad cliff. Lea says he jumped out of the car’s way and injured himself—the basis for the civil suit.

Lea says the female caller told him: “I’m your guardian angel, and you need to make three wishes.”

Curiel gave Lea, who lives out of his RV in Carlsbad, the option of calling witnesses to vouch for his documents through the court’s subpoena power and would even delay the trial 24 hours.

But Lea, who said he didn’t know how to contact the caller, also said earlier: “I would not want to put anyone through what I have been for the last 22 months.”

Curiel said: “You understand you have certain rights to call witnesses. If you elect not to call doctors or other witnesses, that’s a matter of [your] choice.”

Lea said both his doctors were on vacation—along with anyone else who could testify about his records—and he “didn’t have 10 cents” to pay for subpoena service.

He also said he was in a bad situation with the Carlsbad Police Department, which he says could vouch for his presence on the cliff at 8:40 a.m. Oct. 18, 2010. Lea said he was worried about his car being towed from his turn-around location if he called officers as witnesses.

Lea told Curiel that in the days after the 2010 incident he had talked to Seau, his Oceanside neighbor, by phone three times, and was told by the Chargers great “there was no way you were frickin there” on the cliff.

Lea, who said he lives out of his RV on a coastal Carlsbad road,  told the nearly empty court Tuesday that he had only 15 cents to his name Monday but was able to get downtown thanks to a friend’s $25 donation.

He wore a dark backpack into court and his hair in braids after riding a bike three miles to a train station and arriving at the Hall of Justice before the 9 a.m. hearing.

“Excuse me for wearing sandals,” said Lea, acting as his own attorney. “I can’t tie my shoes. I can’t reach my feet” because of the injuries he says Seau caused.

Lea told the court that Farmers Insurance Group had offered him $2,000 to settle the case, and later $4,000, but Curiel said that information—and a document saying Farmers had refused a claim in the incident—could not be heard by a jury as evidence.

Lea said he would “play the cards” he had been dealt and would avoid talking to media during the trial as stipulated by Curiel.

“This will more than likely be all over the news tomorrow,” Lea said near the end of the two-hour morning session with only a reporter and a self-described “observer” in the courtroom. 

Kevin George September 04, 2012 at 09:29 PM
The grim face of reality has shown upon Mooch's dark , delusional, bong induced dream world. "Da Moose" 3:56 pm on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 THE CLERK TOOK 88 PAGES OF EVIDENCE FROM ME TODAY SO THE JUDGE CAN READ IT, SOLID GOLD EVIDENCE Sounds like the judge didn't think it was so solid Mooch. I would have loved to have seen the look of disbelief on Mooch's face when the judge wouldn't accept third party phone conversations or imaginary friends hearsay as legal testimony.
Bob A O'Reilly September 04, 2012 at 10:12 PM
A part of me feels sorry for Da Moose because he is down on his luck. But there should be no luck in lawsuits or settlements. It doesnt look good for him....
Libi Uremovic September 04, 2012 at 10:43 PM
"...Lea says the female caller told him: “I’m your guardian angel, and you need to make three wishes.”...'' that was the basis of the lawsuit?
Libi Uremovic September 04, 2012 at 10:48 PM
'... riding a bike to a train station... “I can’t tie my shoes. I can’t reach my feet” ...' how could he possible ride a bike with a life-debilitating groin injury....the peddling motion would directly effect the groin muscles...
SJ September 04, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Dude, forget the lawsuit: All you need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz and you're fine.
LG Joe September 05, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Yo Moose, dude you should have taken the generous offer from Farmers Insurance. If you had an iota of merit in your case, a lawyer would have cheerfully taken it up on contingency. "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”
John Galt September 05, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I feel sorry for the court staff and jury who has to listen to this garbage. Maybe even more so for the jury who does not get paid. I would be pissed that my time was being wasted. I give Lea 15 seconds after he opens his mouth to question the first witness before he loses the jury. What a jerk.
allthatca September 05, 2012 at 03:13 PM
What a WASTE of taxpayers money but I guess he figures, "what have I got to lose, I have nothing better to do with my time anyway" ...so sad.
Sarah Riccitelli September 05, 2012 at 03:32 PM
We've already been over this. It's distasteful though I guess that I can't blame Moose for wanting to get some money. I guess his surfboards don't cut it anymore.:(
Kevin George September 05, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Sure you can Sarah. When you go to pay your next homeowner or car insurance bill reflect back on this story about a guy who thinks the world owes him because he was standing near an accident involving a rich and famous person.. Insurance companies don't lose money, they just tack it on next years premiums.
Kyla September 05, 2012 at 05:17 PM
"...who says he jumped out of the car’s way and injured himself—the basis for the civil suit." Injured himself, being the key words. And yes, it's hard to see someone so down on their luck (whether he's actually down on his luck or whether this type of life is the result of his lifestyle choices is up for debate). In that case, assist him directly. There's no need to make the insurance company pay out because he's a sad story. A side note: if I had a court date, I'd make sure I saved up the money for transportation to the courthouse, rather than hoping a kind/naive soul would "donate". It seems Mr. Moose has spent his life depending on other people to get him through.
Miss Kitty September 06, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Go back to your weed filled world. Shame on you for being such a lazy good for nothing selfish prick. I work 2 jobs so I have no sympathy for you.
John Galt September 06, 2012 at 07:46 PM
well said
John Galt September 06, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Any updates from the court room?
John Galt September 06, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Why does Carlsbad allow Lea to live on public streets in his RV? Seems enforcement is lacking, or Carlsbad wants to become Santa Monica.
John Galt September 06, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Lea lost! Fresh story in the Patch.
Kevin George September 06, 2012 at 08:01 PM
9am start , two thirty minute closing statements ( If Moooch can stay coherent and lucid that long), the jury should have been back at 10:05.
"Da Moose" September 07, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Now that the Gag order is lifted ,I'll tell what happened If I had no case why did it take 6 people to gang up on me ,If I had no case ,with no witness and no evidence ,after I testified ,I saw Ranya and 2 people that were there the whole trail in the seating area allway satirizing ,IF I HAD NO CASE. LOOK FOR THE APPEAL WITH MY BRO'S DAD AS MY ATTORNEY FROM THE O.C. ONE OF THE BEST P.I. ATTORNEYS IN THE O.C. HE'S 80 AND AND MY BRO TOLD ME HE'S GOING TO HELP ME .EVERYONE IN THE JURY KNEW WHO JUNIOR WAS AND HOW HE DIED.HOW COULD I GET A FAIR TRAIL IN S.D. ???
"Da Moose" September 08, 2012 at 04:31 AM
"Da Moose" September 08, 2012 at 04:32 AM
"Da Moose" September 08, 2012 at 04:34 AM
confirmed the judge’s concerns by asking: “I can’t say I’m not suing the family or the kids?”
"Da Moose" September 08, 2012 at 04:35 AM
confirmed the judge’s concerns by asking: “I can’t say I’m not suing the family or the kids?”
"Da Moose" September 08, 2012 at 04:39 AM
"Da Moose" December 10, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Zimmerman suing NBC over 911 tape edits http://times247.com/articles/zimmerman-suing-nbc-over-911-tape-edits Mmmmm ,you mean the news can't do what ever thay want???you can't edit or try to defame people ,MMMMM sounds a lot like what ken did to me ... How did ken know "Jurors Share Concerns About ‘Money-Digging’ Homeless Man in Seau Suit" 2 days befor the vedict ??? The Jury was told not to talk to the Media at ALL , then how did ken know "Jurors Share Concerns About ‘Money-Digging’ Homeless Man in Seau Suit" if he wasn't supost to talk to the Jury ...2 days befor the vedict ???MMMMMMM,sounds like ken mite have to explain himself sooooon..


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