Note-Taking Banned at Michael George Retrial; Key Prosecution Witness Testifies

The Michael George retrial is continuing in Michigan, with an odd twist. The judge banned note-taking after suspicions that information was being misused. The Detroit News reported:

A judge presiding over the high-profile trial of Michael George Friday banned pen-and-paper note-taking in her courtroom after it was revealed that two women linked to George have been taking “copious” notes and allegedly sharing them with George’s wife, who may be called to testify.

Renee George, Michael’s current wife, was a worker at George’s store when his first wife, Barbara, was killed. Renee had recently been divorced, three weeks before the murder. A potential motive for the crime was Michael’s desire to divorce Barbara, although as a Catholic, she refused. There was discussion of Michael and Renee having an affair before the killing. Renee isn’t allowed to observe the trial or be in the courtroom during proceedings because she’s a potential defense witness.

Renee and Michael George

Renee and Michael George at the start of the trial on September 14 -- Pool photo by TODD McINTURF/The Detroit News

Friday’s trial featured a key witness for the prosecution, Michael Renaud. Barbara George, the victim, was shot in the back room of the store Comics World shortly after 6 PM on July 13, 1990. Previously, George’s mother provided an alibi, saying that he was at her house a half-hour away from the shop from about 4:30 PM to after 6 PM. He was said to be napping while the mother took George’s two daughters to the park nearby.

Renaud, a frequent customers, claims he called Michael George at the comic shop and spoke to him about 5:30 on the evening of the crime. “The answers were very short and he seemed to kind of be in a hurry to get off the phone,” Renaud said in his testimony. As for the note ban, it’s in part to keep Renee George from being tainted as a witness:

Macomb County Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski grilled a woman who’d been taking notes in the courtroom during the trial and has identified herself as George’s “friend, therapist, and an unpublished novelist.” The note-taking and alleged conversations with Renee George were uncovered Thursday by an investigator with the prosecutor’s office, the judge said. “I’m getting a little bit tired of playing Columbo. My attention should be focused on this trial,” Chrzanowski said.

… After questioning George’s therapist, Chrzanowski remarked that a second woman, believed to be George’s pastor, has been taking notes as well, and “discussing and visiting with” George’s wife in between testimony. When asked if she’d shared testimony of the trial with Renee George, the pastor told Chrzanowski, “not this week.”

… If she testifies, a hearing will be held in advance of Renee George taking the stand to find out “what information she learned or didn’t learn,” Fox said. George’s stepson, who also has been taking notes, is exempt from Chrzanowski’s ruling. He’s not expected to testify and is not allowed to share the notes with his mother.

One Response to “Note-Taking Banned at Michael George Retrial; Key Prosecution Witness Testifies”

  1. Russell lissau Says:

    If that order applies to the media covering the trial, the judge is in for trouble. Banning reporters from doing their jobs in an open courtroom is unconstitutional.




Most Recent Posts: