Spector seeks new legal team for retrial
EmptyMost of Phil Spector's defense lawyers are bowing out of his second murder trial and the legendary music producer has begun an intensive search for a new lead counsel, a remaining lawyer told the judge Wednesday.
"I'm the last man standing," said attorney Christopher Plourd, who presented scientific evidence during the trial which ended last week in a mistrial. The jury deadlocked 10-2 for with the majority favoring conviction.
"Mr. Spector is actively seeking new lead counsel. He probably needs three, four or five weeks to do this. He's interviewing one lawyer today," said Plourd, who added that six lawyers were waiting in the wings to talk to Spector.
"I don't know if I'll stay on the case or not," Plourd told Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler.
He said that San Francisco attorney Dennis Riordan, who joined the team in its last weeks, will stay on to handle legal motions but not as trial counsel.
Spector did not attend Wednesday's hearing. The 67-year-old record producer is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of actress Lana Clarkson.
Clarkson, 40, died about 5 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2003, from a gunshot fired in her mouth as she sat in the foyer of Spector's Alhambra mansion. The defense contends the shot was self-inflicted, either an accident or a suicide. The prosecution contended Spector shot her.
Clarkson's mother and sister, who attended the entire trial, were present Wednesday with their lawyers. They have filed a wrongful-death civil suit against Spector.
Attorney Roger Rosen, who headed the often-fractured defense team during the long trial, asked the judge to relieve him and attorney Bradley Brunon from further representing Spector. The judge agreed and said he had also been informed that New York lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden was leaving the case.
New York attorney Bruce Cutler, who began the trial as Spector's lead counsel, was dismissed just before closing arguments.
Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, who formally announced that the prosecution will retry the case, urged a quick turnaround in getting started again. But the judge said he understood the need for "a reasonable amount of time" for a new defense team to prepare.
He ordered Spector to appear in court Oct. 23 with his new lead lawyer and said he hoped a trial could begin in four months. But he added, "I am not setting anything in stone."
Fidler warned that Spector had better choose a lawyer with an open calendar, saying he will require the lawyer to represent that he can be ready to go to trial without undue delay.
"One of the things Mr. Spector is finding is that good lawyers are busy," Plourd said outside court. "Their calendars are full."
Rosen said it was Spector's decision to seek new counsel.
"I have fulfilled my obligations to represent Phillip and I support his decision to get new counsel. Sometimes when you have new sets of eyes and ears they see the case differently," he said.
He said he would now be able to get back to clients who have been waiting patiently for the Spector trial to end.
Rosen said his advice to a new lawyer taking the case would be: "Be prepared for a long journey and don't make any plans for the weekends."
Plourd said Spector had hopes of an acquittal from the beginning and, "We hope to do better next time."
But he added, "We hope to get a jury as conscientious as the last one."
Asked if Spector's money was responsible for the results, Plourd said, "I don't think money made any difference. The facts and evidence control the decision-making, not the lawyers, not the showmanship of attorneys. The evidence will control the second case just as it controlled the first case."
Spector was a hit-making rock producer decades ago with a recording technique known as the "Wall of Sound."
Clarkson, most famous for the 1985 cult film "Barbarian Queen," met Spector at her job as a House of Blues hostess and went home with him after work.