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L.A. Man Gets Bail in Courtroom Shooting

Times Staff Writers

As crime-victim advocates and lawyers debated the impact of his act, Los Angeles resident Jack Spiegelman was freed on $25,000 bail Friday after being charged with the courtroom shooting of a man accused of murdering his daughter.

And as word spread of the dramatic Thursday shooting, people began offering Spiegelman unsolicited moral and financial help, while some crime-victim advocates worried that the incident might give their movement a bad name.

The man Spiegelman is accused of shooting, Daniel D. Morgan, 39, was recovering from three bullet wounds in a San Francisco hospital. He was felled when Spiegelman, the sole spectator at the Thursday afternoon court session, pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his briefcase, stood up and yelled “You scummy bastard!” and began firing, witnesses said.

Charged in Killing

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Morgan, who faces the death penalty if convicted, is charged with shooting and killing Sarah Spiegelman, 18, as she sat in a grassy area with Dwion Gates in Golden Gate Park on March 3, 1983. Gates was temporarily paralyzed by the attack and only recently has begun to walk again. Morgan was found mentally incompetent to stand trial after the murder and was sent to Atascadero State Hospital. After treatment, he was deemed competent and returned to San Francisco last fall to stand trial.

Spiegelman, wearing bright orange jail clothes, spoke only twice at his arraignment Friday before Municipal Judge David A. Garcia, agreeing to waive his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, and promising to stay clear of San Francisco’s Hall of Justice. Security was extraordinary at the hearing, with four bailiffs in the courtroom and two at the door.

In addition to the attempted murder of Morgan, Spiegelman was charged with using a deadly weapon to assault Ron Albers and Wendy Lowinger, two members of Morgan’s defense team who were sitting next to him when the attack occurred. A fourth felony charge, possession of a firearm in a courtroom, also was filed.

‘A Peaceable Man’

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In arguing for low bail, Spiegelman’s lawyer, James P. Collins of San Francisco, characterized his client as “a peaceable man, a nonviolent man” who posed no danger to the community and would not try to flee. The bail was posted by Spiegelman’s family and close friends.

“The only time violence came to the fore was yesterday, when he watched a man who three years ago shot and killed his daughter,” Collins said. “For three years, he had watched that man evade justice.”

Prosecutor Charles R. B. Kirk of the state attorney general’s office argued that bail should be substantial because Spiegelman demonstrated he can “resort to violence and take the law into his own hands when he feels the law is not measuring up to his own standard.”

The attorney general’s office was asked to handle the case when the district attorney’s office stepped down because members of the D.A.'s staff were present when Morgan was shot and may be called as witnesses against Spiegelman.

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Outside court, Collins said his client merely “did something yesterday that the state of California has been trying to do for the last three years"--that is, punish Morgan.

That sentiment was supported by other crime-victim advocates outside the court. One, June Sanborn of San Francisco, said: “We’re very supportive of Mr. Spiegelman--150%.”

“As a father I can relate to this man,” said Paul Apostol, one of several Southern Californians who telephoned The Times and offered to donate money for Spiegelman’s defense.

Spiegelman’s father, Phil, 76, said that he had received calls throughout the day from friends who offered donations to his son’s defense fund. “We’ve never seen so much support for him. . . . Now we have to look to the future and think about Jack,” said the elder Spiegelman, a San Leandro resident.

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“Jack was shown super-special treatment at jail” he added. “People (jail employees) treated him like a king.”

San Francisco talk show host Ronn Owens of KGO radio said the Spiegelman case, discussed on his Friday morning broadcast, attracted more interest than any topic discussed in several weeks.

“The board just filled up,” Owens said. “You’re hitting people who are parents, you’re hitting people who feel the justice system has broken down, you’re hitting people who feel that Rose Bird should be voted out.

”. . . You won’t find a person in the city who would want to send this guy to jail.”

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Campaigned Against Bird

Spiegelman, who recently moved to Los Angeles from Glendale, is on the board of directors of Justice for Homicide Victims, a small crime victims’ organization that is active in politics. Spiegelman has actively campaigned against the retention of Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird.

In one anti-Bird campaign leaflet last year described as an “open letter” to the chief justice, Spiegelman wrote that Bird’s view of justice could be changed with “a single bullet” fired into a loved one.

Bird’s campaign spokesman declined to comment on Spiegelman Friday.

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Ellen Dunne, mother of murdered actress Dominque Dunne and a founder of Justice for Homicide Victims, said she worries that the victims’ movement might be damaged by Spiegelman’s action.

“I pray people will not take it to heart and think we are a bunch of loonies who take matters into our own hands,” Dunne said. “We are sensible people. . . . We work through the law.”

In Los Angeles, where he was being honored at a Japanese-American reception in Little Tokyo, Gov. George Deukmejian said he did not think Spiegelman’s action “is at all supported or condoned” by the families of crime victims because they know by experience the effects of violence on surviving kin.

The governor added that he hoped better security could be installed at courtrooms throughout the state to prevent more such occurrences.

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