THE JUDGE & THE CONVICT'S WOMAN
"Judge Trammell asked why my wife never called him and told her that he had loved her very much ever since she took the open plea in his courtroom," Jin wrote in the thick, handwritten Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus he filed from the county jail on January 17, 1997. "He told her she looked very different when she wasn't in the jail uniform. My wife kept telling Judge Trammell that I am innocent in this case, but the judge kept telling my wife I would receive a life sentence. The judge began to touch my wife's hair and shoulders, then held her hands to tell her he could give me 20 years. My wife responded that I would rather commit suicide because I am innocent. Judge Trammell said he believed so. Judge Trammell told my wife if she wants me home early, then she must pay the price. And then he put his hand down into her clothes and touched her breast, then kissed her. My wife struggled and again he told her she must pay the price. Later he asked her if she would like to see him again on Saturday, three days later. My wife didn't answer the question but asked to leave. Judge first checked outside his office door then held my wife's shoulder to walk with her across the courtroom to the front door to let her leave."
Lo didn't immediately tell Jin about the judge's proposition though she regularly spoke with him in jail visits and by phone. She also phoned Chu regularly. After the love letters were introduced at trial, she no doubt suspected that Jin and Chu were writing each other. In this way, the three of them seem to have maintained a tight little community to help one another through the long ordeal.
Having hatched his shameful scheme, Trammell may have begun worrying that the man against whom he, a judge, was committing the ultimate injustice might exact some extrajudicial revenge. Claiming to have received a birthday card from Jin, Trammell confided to his bailiff, deputy Edward Borunda, that he was afraid Jin was part of an Asian organized crime syndicate with the ability to order Trammell's execution. On September 20, 1996 he ordered Jin's paramour, convicted kidnapper Yu Ching Chu, to be brought to his chambers and asked about her knowledge of the birthday card Jin had presumably sent. Language problems kept Chu from understanding everything that was said. However, she seems to have later told Jin that Trammell offered her probation if she would testify against Jin. Trammell did ask Chu to call him three days later on Monday and asked Borunda to jot down his phone number for Chu. According to Jin's habeas petition, largely based on what Lo told him, "Judge Trammell was angry that my wife refused his invitation." As he concluded the meeting, Trammell ordered Chu not to tell her attorney Enid Ballantyne about the chambers meeting. The Judge twice asked Borunda to follow him home to make sure nothing happened to him.
Chu later called Lo to tell her about the conversation with the judge.
"My wife feared the judge's reaction so she decided to collect evidence to disqualify the judge," Jin wrote.
The next day "Judge Trammell called Pifen Lo at home and gave her his home address and asked her to come to his house on September 22, 1996," states Judge Fasel's findings. "On September 22, 1996 Lo went to Judge Trammell's house. He again discussed sentencing in regards to Jin's case. Judge Trammell and Pifen Lo engaged in sexual intercourse. This was after he told her that if she didn't want Jin in jail for life, then she would have to pay the price."
Jin is able to supply considerably more details about this encounter based on what he later learned from Lo:
On September 21, 1996 Judge Trammell called from his home to my home 3 times and left a message for my wife. Upon her return she called him. It was late in the afternoon and the judge gave his home address to my wife and asked her to go to his home the next day.
Judge Fasel's findings then jump to October 4, 1996 when Chu's lawyer, Ms Ballentyne, filed a motion to disqualify Judge Trammell based on the September 20 ex parte conversation with Chu in his chambers. It then summarizes: