For D.C. Magistrate Judge Janet Albert, it was a day for explanations.
Albert took the witness stand again today in the criminal trial of her ex-girlfriend, Taylar Nuevelle, who faces burglary and stalking charges for allegedly breaking into the judge's Washington home in 2008 following their tumultuous breakup. It was Albert's second day of testimony in D.C. Superior Court and featured a cross examination from defense lawyer Dorsey Jones Jr., which helped clear up some puzzles looming over Albert's version of events.
In particular: Why didn’t Albert go to the police sooner?
While taking questions from prosecutors this morning, Albert tearfully described how Nuevelle was discovered unconscious in Albert’s attic in the early morning hours of Sept. 14, 2008, surrounded by pills and liquor bottles. (The prosecution projected a large photo of the bucket Nuevelle had allegedly used as a makeshift toilet.) Albert said that she “foolishly” decided not to file a complaint with police after Nuevelle was taken to the hospital that day in the hope that her former girlfriend would seek help on her own.
Instead, she testified, Nuevelle continued sending a barrage of angry e-mails and text messages, sometimes demanding back personal items that were still at Albert’s house, but mostly berating her for their failed relationship. Albert said that she was afraid and that she believed Nuevelle had broken into and deleted one of her e-mail accounts. She asked the U.S. Marshals Service to look at her house to suggest security improvements. She had an ADT system and motion detecting lights installed. But she didn’t get a restraining order.
Why? Albert said that, having worked on the court’s domestic violence unit for two-and-a-half years, she knew the staff. She called herself an intensely private person and said she didn’t want her personal problems invading her work life.
Nuevelle “wanted to bring this into a forum, into my work environment, to embarrass and humiliate me,” Albert said. “I didn’t want to go there.”
She later added, ruefully, “Now everything’s an open book.”
Jones began his cross examination by asking Albert about her living arrangements with Nuevelle, who he earlier argued was simply trying to retrieve her belongings from the house where the two of them had lived. The line of questions only seemed to give Albert a chance to deny that she and Nuevelle had ever cohabitated.
“She moved a lot of stuff into your house, correct?” Jones asked.
“That’s not correct,” Albert replied.
A few moments later, he tried another route.
“Did you and Ms. Nuevelle discuss terminating the lease on her apartment?”
Later, Jones tried to press Albert on the timing of her police complaint, which she filed on Sept. 27, 2008 – two weeks after the alleged break-in. Albert had testified that on Sept. 23, 2008, she received word about an anonymous judicial ethics complaint filed with the court. On Sept. 25, she was told about another anonymous complaint, this one filed against her with D.C. Child Protective Services. She suspected Nuevelle was involved in both of them, she said. Jones stressed the order of events and the fact that Albert had not previously sought a restraining order.
But Albert seemed to have no problem acknowledging that the police report was a response to the complaints. On redirect, in fact, she said just that.
“I decided to go to the police when I got notification about the anonymous complaint, not because I was trying to retaliate, but because I saw this woman is going to stop at nothing,” Albert said. “This isn’t a situation where this woman is going to burn out. She’s going after my kid and my job.”