Lawyer for D.A. Seeks Fees in Libel Case
A lawyer representing Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury urged a retired judge Friday to award the county as much as $117,493 in legal fees in connection with a libel lawsuit brought against the prosecutor three years ago.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Spencer sued Bradbury and four aides in March 1994, accusing them of defamation, libel, slander and violation of civil rights.
Spencer had shot and killed millionaire Donald P. Scott during a fruitless drug raid at Scott’s his Malibu home in 1992. In a written report, Bradbury exonerated the deputy because Scott was waving a gun during the raid.
But Bradbury also criticized Spencer and accused him of lying to obtain a search warrant. Spencer sued, alleging that the report defamed him.
The lawsuit was dismissed by the Court of Appeal last fall, a decision recently upheld by the California Supreme Court.
Shortly thereafter, Oxnard attorney Glen M. Reiser filed a motion to recover some of the legal fees accumulated during the case.
“The costs of defending Spencer’s quixotic foray into constitutional litigation must be paid directly by the citizens of Ventura County,” Reiser said in his brief, asking the judge to award fees of $58,745 to $117,493.
But at a hearing Friday, retired Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge J. Kimball Walker indicated that he has no intention of awarding the higher amount--or any sum greater than Reiser’s $48,000 contract with the county.
“I am certainly not going to multiply it,” Walker snapped.
The judge, who now lives in Bishop, originally ruled in favor of Spencer. His decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
During the hearing, Spencer’s attorney, David D. Lawrence of Pasadena, told the judge that awarding legal fees would force his client into bankruptcy.
“He is a person of modest means,” he said. “A significant award would ruin him financially.”
Walker is expected to rule on the motion within a few days.