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Jan 26, 2006
LOS ANGELES Music man Phil Spector’s own words may come back to haunt him again.
Last year, a judge ruled that incriminating statements Spector made to police after he was arrested on suspicion of shooting actress Lana Clarkson could be used against him at his upcoming murder trial.
Spector’s attorneys lost another war over words Thursday when the judge ruled that portions of a deposition Spector gave in a civil suit filed against his former defense attorney Robert Shapiro were to be handed over to prosecutors and released to the public.
Spector, 66, has pleaded not guilty to Clarkson’s Feb. 3, 2003, shooting death. He was not present at Thursday’s hearing.
“It’s personal and private,” attorney Bruce Cutler argued. “There’s nothing [in the deposition] that has to do with the most salient, the most salient, part of this case: Feb-oh-three-oh-three.”
Cutler was referring to the date officers discovered Clarkson’s dead body sprawled on a chair in the foyer of Spector’s Alhambra mansion.
But prosecutors said they wanted to see for themselves whether Spector made admissions that would help their case. Their request was a veritable fishing expedition, as Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson admitted Thursday, they were arguing “from a blind spot,” having never seen the transcript.
Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler announced that after reading the document himself, he found “no smoking gun,” but did find that there was information that was “both discoverable and admissible.”
Fidler made reference to portions of the transcript dealing with “a timeline,” as well as “statements from Mr. Spector regarding his state of sobriety.”
Spector first met Clarkson, 40, at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, where she was a hostess in the VIP room, and he invited her for a limo ride back to his Pyrenees castle.
The limo driver later told police he heard a gunshot and saw his boss emerge with a gun in his hand saying he had shot a woman.
Spector has since renounced such claims and suggested that the aging B-movie actress shot herself.
Judge Fidler will go over the deposition transcript page by page in the next few days and release the portions that are admissible, according to a court spokesperson.
But the judge has yet to rule on whether to release portions about Spector’s financial dealings with Shapiro, whom he fired in January 2004 and then filed suit against in order to recoup part of a $1 million retainer fee.
“As far as the finances go, that’s nobody’s concern,” Cutler argued.
The stocky, gravel-voiced New York attorney, who once represented mob boss John Gotti, raised his hands as he stood at the lectern and described what he called the “financial rape” of Spector by his former attorney Shapiro.
“The deposition papers, which we have right here, are an attempt by Mr. Shapiro to recover money a massive amount of money that was taken from him under false pretenses and that he felt wasn’t earned,” Cutler said.
Spector’s suit claims that after his arrest he was “laboring under a tremendous amount of mental stress” and “had not been able to take his medication for several days,” and that’s when the attorney famous for helping O.J. Simpson beat murder charges took advantage of him.
“As a friend and confidante to Mr. Spector, Shapiro was well aware of the fact that Mr. Spector was under the care of a mental health professional and was prescribed medications for the purpose of stabilizing Mr. Spector’s mental condition,” according to his July 2004 suit.
Toxicology reports indicate that Spector had alcohol, as well as the anti-depressant medication Prozac and the anti-convulsant drug Topamax, in his system at the time of his arrest.
Spector said in his suit that Shapiro did little work and “coerced” him into signing a retainer agreement, which listed total fees of no less than $1.5 million, including Shapiro’s hourly rate of $600.
Shapiro’s attorneys deposed Spector in July 2005. They argued in response papers that Shapiro provided the producer with “stellar representation,” including pressuring Alhambra police for his immediate release from jail, out of the sight of media.
Shapiro also declared in court documents that Spector was simply “a friendly acquaintance, I have never considered him to be a close friend.”
With his April 24 murder trial looming, Spector unexpectedly withdrew his suit against Shapiro late last year and it was dismissed without prejudice, which means he may file the same complaint again at a later time.
But there’s still that mysterious deposition to deal with.
“I don’t want the court to feel, or the world to feel, or the people to feel, or the press to feel there’s anything in here I’m ashamed of, or trying to hide,” Cutler said Thursday. “Mr. Spector was taken advantage of, so he brought a civil suit.”
“Clients of mine in New York have been accused of taking money not legally,” Cutler joked Thursday, praising his client’s law-abiding means of redress. “Here’s Mr. Spector trying to get his money back legally.”
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Record Producer Phil Spector Arrested — (Fox News)
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
ALHAMBRA, Calif. Legendary record producer Phil Spector was arrested Monday for investigation of homicide after the body of a woman was found at his home in a Los Angeles suburb, authorities said.
Spector, 62, was arrested at the castle-like estate around 5 a.m., in this suburb about 15 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, county sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Efflandt said.
The police responded to a call from a neighbor and discovered the body of a white, adult female, an LAPD spokesman told Fox News. The woman had been shot and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police also told Fox that Spector is the only current suspect in the murder. The producer was taken to the Alhambra Police Department for questioning, and several witnesses were also being questioned, deputies said.
Spector was being represented by attorney Robert Shapiro, whose clients have included O.J. Simpson.
“Mr. Shapiro is Mr. Spector’s longtime lawyer and is with him now. We have no further comment at this time,” Shapiro’s office said in a statement.
Spector lived alone in the home where he was arrested, said close friend Marvin Mitchelson, a prominent Los Angeles attorney.