Appeal Filed In Spector Case

Lawyers for Phil Spector filed for appeal, claiming the famed record producer’s murder conviction should be tossed because of judicial error and misconduct by the prosecutor.

It took two trials to convict Spector of second-degree murder in the gunshot death of actress Lana Clarkson. The first ended in deadlock while the second trial convicted Spector, resulting in a 19-years-to-life sentence.

Now his lawyers are appealing the second trial by raising issues about testimonies given by women in Spector’s past saying he had threatened them with guns and that prosecutors used the statements to influence jurors to convict Spector “based on his bad character and evil propensities.” The lawyers argued in the appeal that such action is impermissible under the law.

But prosecutors’ actions weren’t the only target in Spector’s appeal, for defense lawyers also claimed the Superior Court judge who presided over both trials – Larry Paul Fidler – had committed errors.

At issue is a videotape prosecutors showed the jury of the second trial depicting a hearing that did not include Spector and the jury from the first trial, but did show Fidler commenting on evidence presented at trial No. 1.

Citing a transcript of the tape, the defense lawyers claimed Fidler interpreted the actions of a key forensic witness’ testimony in the first trial regarding the position of blood splatter at the crime scene. Furthermore, lawyers pointed out that prosecutors in the second trial cited the tape during closing arguments and showed side-by-side photos of the witness and judge as “persons who supplied crucial evidence supporting a guilty verdict.”

Saying the judge couldn’t be cross-examined in court for his comments, the appeal stated, “Under California law, a judge may not offer evidence in a trial over which he presides.”

The attorneys also said prosecutors’ closing statements and their “vituperative attacks on the integrity of defense counsel and the expert witnesses…passed over the line separating aggressive advocacy from prosecutorial misconduct.”

Also cited in the appeal was Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson’s final argument where he accused defense attorneys of paying expert witnesses to allegedly lie on the stand in exchange for payment. According to appeal docs, Jackson told the jurors in the second trial, “How does homicide become a suicide? Just write a big fat check…Just go out and buy yourself a scientist.”

After one of Spector’s defense attorneys moved for a mistrial, claiming the prosecutor’s remarks were prejudicial, Fidler denied the motion and said the comment was “a fair inference that if you pay them enough they will say anything.”

Defense lawyers also claimed in the appeal that the judge improperly allowed prosecutors to assert Spector “had a history and propensity of violence against women and thus should be convicted based on his bad character and evil propensities.”

The next step in the appeal will come from the state attorney general’s office which is expected to file a reply brief next month.