'Oddball' jury prospect enlivens Smith proceedings

November 06, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A 78-year-old prospective juror and self-described oddball left the decorum of the William Kennedy Smith rape trial a shambles with a free-wheeling commentary on life, politics and the foibles of the Kennedy family.

"I don't know who was running around without his pants," declared Florence Orbach, a Palm Beach widow, referring yesterday to reports that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., wandered partly clad on the night of an alleged rape at his family estate. "I think it was the fat guy."

And she went on to say that she, for one, also does not care "who diddled who."

By the time her interview for jury selection was over, Judge Mary Lupo had clapped her hands over her face to hide her laughter and thepress room was in an uproar.

Smith, Kennedy's nephew, is accused of raping a Jupiter, Fla., woman at the family estate last March 30. So far, 29 prospective jurors have been interviewed.

Orbach, who lives alone in a condo development that she complained is infested with bingo players, declared at the beginning of the courtroom session that "I've had to suppress myself my entire life. Now I'm going to be me."

She said Kennedy is "idealistic, but maybe he's a little horny." Still, she allowed, "Richard Nixon ate cottage cheese and he wanted to conquer the world."

Meanwhile, Lupo ruled that she would exclude some details of the personal background of the accuser that the defense has sought to bring into the case. The judge said she would reserve rulings on two other motions for specific information.

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