August 20, 1979
Scans of original transcript
MR. SEGAL: Your Honor, indulge us for a moment, please.
MR. SEGAL: May we see Your Honor about scheduling just a second?
THE COURT: Yes, sir.
B E N C H C O N F E R E N C E
MR. SEGAL: Your Honor, we have another witness -- character witness who is here from Long Beach; but even with a few qauestions of cross, it would probably take about 15 minutes.
THE COURT: Well, you can get more than half of it in this afternoon.
MR. SEGAL: My hope is we might have been able to finish, perhaps, that witness before we adjourned for the day. I don't mean to short out the Government.
THE COURT: You mean you want to call her now and get rid of her?
MR. SEGAL: I would like to finish with her, yes.
THE COURT: I don't see any reason in the world for asking 15 minutes of examination of a character witness. There ain't going to be any cross-examination to amount to anything.
Come on. I will accommodate you. If we can accommodate the witness I will do it, but I think 10 minutes is enough.
(Bench conference terminated.)
(Whereupon, MARY D. BUTLER was called as a witness, duly sworn, and testified as follows:)
D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N 4:53 p.m.
BY MR. SEGAL:
Q Ms. Butler, will you tell us please where you reside?
A I reside in Long Beach, California.
Q And are you connected with Saint Mary's Hospital in Long Beach?
A I am an employee at Saint Mary's Hospital -- for 15 years.
Q And what sort of work do you do at Saint Mary's, if you can describe it somewhat briefly?
A I am a unit secretary in the emergency room. I take orders from the doctors, transcribe them to the lab for services to be rendered in the emergency room for the patients' care.
Q How long have you worked in the emergency department at Saint Mary's Hospital?
A Since 1970 -- latter part of 1971.
Q When did you first meet Dr. MacDonald, the Defendant in this case?
A Oh, just shortly after that. He was a, you know, he was an employee there, too; and when I went to the emergency room I met him shortly after that.
Q When you went to the emergency room, had you heard or did you hear shortly thereafter about the fact that Dr. MacDonald had been charged in 1970 with the murders of his family?
A Yes, I did.
Q How did that come up, and what was your reaction, if anything, to that?
A Well, a couple of the employees knew I was a kind of an outspoken person, so they thought they better call me to the side and tell me who he was and so they did. And they said, did I see it in the Look magazine, and I said, "No; I hadn't heard it before," until I got that information from two of the employees.
Q When you learned about this, what did it cause you to do besides look at that magazine article about the man?
A Well, I think humanly it would be, you know, a little suspicious -- just sort of watch the person -- you know, just watched him every day to see if I could see any signs that, you know, maybe that was the kind of person -- you know, that he could be.
Q And how long did you continue to work with Dr. MacDonald from that time after you started to look him over?
A Well, I have continued until present. I am still employed there.
Q Did you ever have occasion to see Dr. MacDonald -- how did he deal with his patients at the hospital and what was the way he treated them as human beings -- not so much as talking about the medical care, although, that is part of it, but really, what was his attitude in the way that he related to people and whether or not he cared about people?
A Very well. Dr. MacDonald, to me, is just an outstanding person when it comes to the people because we see all kinds of people, the down and out, the rich and the poor. It is a tough place to work. If you haven't ever worked in ari Emergency Room, you really may not understand what I am talking about, but it is a tough place, but Dr. MacDonald has always been, to me, an outstanding person. He cared about the patients. He cared about staff.
Q You say he cared about patients. What did that mean as far as the way he dealt with people?
A Well, may I make one illustration?
A On occasions, we do have drunks, you know, derelicts that they pick up, you know, the paramedics pick up from the street. They have to be cared for. The one thing Dr. MacDonald said to me when I first went into the Emergency Room after four days or maybe a week -- he said to me, "Mary, you are going to be good. I want you to stay." Keeping in mind that I worked upstairs already seven years with other patients, he said , "One thing you have to remember and I want you to always remember that first, the patients are sick." He said, "After we find out whether they are sick, then we will deal with the rest," and I was really impressed.
Q Did you see him live up to his own code thereafter?
A Every day.
Q Were there times in the Emergency Room when patients became unruly or disorderly in some fashion?
Q How did Dr. MacDonald respond to that? Did he become irritated, angry, lose his temper at people?
A Not really lose his temper, but I would say took care of the matter. On one occasion, I don't know whether Dr. MacDonald remembers or not, but we did have a patient -- a big burly guy -- excuse me -- very irate, very arrogant -- he just took a swing at the doctor and broke his glasses.
Q Broke Dr. MacDonald's glasses?
Q What was his response? How did he handle it?
A He just swung at him and put him in his place. He was settled after that and that was all there was to it.
Q Did he beat on the man or sit on him?
Q Did he seem outraged and in an uncontrolled anger after that?
Q How would you characterize the response? Was it reasonable or unreasonable?
A I was glad because I was there, so I was glad he was not swinging at me because sometimes these patients swing at us.
Q What is Dr. MacDonald's attitude towards children over the period of time you have observed him, Ms. Butler?
A I would say excellent because I have seen many, many children come through the Emergency Room. He is very concerned about child beaters. I remember one two-year old coming in -- I don't know whether the doctor remembers it or not -- but who gave the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation -- Dr. MacDonald did -- before any of us could get to that kid. We found out later -- we were not able to save the kid, but the mother stated that she had taken her child to the doctor that afternoon and had been diagnosed as pneumonia and given an antibiotic for treatment. She, that night, went home instead of taking her to the hospital, so the doctor immediately tried his best, and he ended up having to take Ampicillin because mouth-to-mouth is serious business.
Q Was this just ordinary medical care or something out of the ordinary?
A Oh, no. That is the most out of the ordinary for most people. When I say "most people," I mean for the average citizen on the street. Where we are, we are trained to do it so any one of us could do it.
Q Has Dr. MacDonald, to your knowledge, been involved in trying to help youngsters of any ages of any groups?
A Well, sir, because you see, I am involved in my community and Dr. MacDonald has been very good with our effort at the programs in giving free physicals for, you know, the handicapped and underprivileged people that can't afford it, so we usually ask some of the doctors or somebody in the community asks people to come in that are doctors from the community and give free physicals, and Dr. Jeff has always given his time.
Q Is that easy or hard to get doctors to give their free time to that kind of program?
A It is kind of hard because, see, we are now talking about malpractice. We just don't get a lot of doctors who just really do it like in the old days when we first started out.
Q What is your opinion of Dr. MacDonald as far as being a truthful person?
A Well, I have never caught him in a lie yet. He has always been very truthful with me because we have worked very close. I worked on the floor beside him as an assistant to the doctors and the nurses and two years ago, I was able to obtain the unit secretary's job, so now, I am just right behind where sometimes that gets to be a shouting match, you know, screaming because you have to really be fast. You have to think fast, and where Dr. MacDonald has always been there, I have always been right there with him.
Q Would you say that you find him truthful as to matters about his own personal life and in matters of importance?
A What do you mean when you say "importance"?
Q Personal life -- I mean, do you think in your opinion that you consider him to be a truthful person about personal matters about his life?
MR. BLACKBURN: OBJECTION, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you have any such opinion?
THE WITNESS: I would say that he is truthful.
THE COURT: Do you know anything about his reputation for truthfulness in his personal life?
THE WITNESS: In Long Beach?
THE COURT: Uh-huh.
THE WITNESS: Yes, I do.
THE COURT: Tell us.
BY MR. SEGAL:
Q What is your opinion?
A My opinion is good because we also have a chance when we have been what we think overworked -- the doctors always sort of rewarded us with a dinner or a dessert or something. He has always kept his word. He says, "I thank you guys. You really worked tonight," and, you know, it has about killed us, and we say, "We don't know how we are going to make it." He says, "Well, if everybody continues this, we are going to have fudge cake tonight," so we usually get that.
MR. SEGAL: Thank you very much, Ms. Butler. The Government may have some questions of you. cross-examine.
MR. BLACKBURN: Just a very few, Your Honor.
C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 5:02 p.m.
BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Ms. Butler, you first met the Defendant Dr. MacDonald in 1971?
A I think 1971, like November -- the latter part of the year, I believe.
Q You did not know him prior to his coming to California?
Q You did not know his family, then, I take it?
A No; I did not.
Q And you don't have any personal firsthand knowledge asto what happened on the night of the 17th of February, 1970?
A Personally, no.
Q Did you ever talk with the Defendant about it?
A We talked like, we hoped it will hurry up and be over for you, you know, when I finally learned and when I saw the court thing, and trying to convict him, and so forth. We talked about, you know, we hoped it would hurry up and be over, and, "How can you stand all this," because then I began to read a little bit in the newspaper. And so we would chat together and say, "We are really praying for you," and that kind of stuff.
Q You haven't been in the courtroom during any of the evidence, I take it, then, have you?
A No; I have not.
Q Now, in working at the hospital, did you work for Dr. MacDonaId, or alongside of him, or what?
A Let's see; how can we put that? Dr. MacDonald is the boss -- is the director of the emergency room. I work in the emergency room, and from day to day I work with him, because he is on duty himself many times.
Q At Saint Mary's Hospital, are the emergency services contracted for with the hospital, or is that correct?
A You know what: I'm not real sure. I would prefer -- I am not real sure how it is done. You know what I am saying, I'm not real sure who pays who. I'm not sure about that.
Q Who pays you, Ms. Butler?
A The hospital.
MR. BLACKBURN: No further questions.
MR. SEGAL: Thank you very much, Ms. Butler. You may step down.
THE COURT: All right, may this witness be excused?
MR. BLACKBURN: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: That brings [us] to about three minutes over our regular recess time, members of the jury; but just occassionally, as I told you, we have one that needs to go back home and we try to accomodate them, and I appreciate your indulgence to this extent.
We will take our recess now until our regular Tuesday morning convening time, which is 9:30. Don't talk about the case. Remember all those things I told you now. Have a good night, a safe trip home and back. See you in the morning at 9:30.
Let this jury go out, please, before the rest of you do.
(The jury exits at 5:04 p.m.)
THE COURT: Take a recess until 9:30.
(The proceeding was adjourned at 5:05 p.m., to reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 21, 1979.)