A judge ordered Wednesday that grand jury transcripts in rock music producer Phil Spector’s murder case be unsealed, but gave defense attorneys 10 days to appeal.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler ruled that Spector’s right to a fair trial would not be jeopardized by the release of the transcripts, which run more than 1,000 pages.
The grand jury indicted Spector in September on a charge of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra mansion in February 2003. Spector has pleaded not guilty.
The transcripts include testimony from witnesses who told grand jurors about alleged incidents involving Spector dating back several years, according to Wednesday’s hearing. They also include testimony from a witness about Clarkson’s emotional state before her death, as well as statements from Alhambra police officers and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees.
Defense attorneys had asked Fidler to keep the transcripts sealed, arguing that the pretrial publicity would prejudice potential jurors and make it difficult to find 12 impartial panel members for Spector’s trial. They also criticized prosecutors for taking the case to the secret grand jury.
“This was not a level playing field,” attorney Roger J. Rosen said. “This was a playing field that was skewed and out of balance.”
Holding the transcripts up, attorney Bruce Cutler said they were full of lies. “This is poison,” he said. “That’s why the prosecutor wants it out there.”
Deputy Dist. Atty. Doug Sortino argued that the transcripts should be made public, and that disclosure would not prevent a fair trial for Spector. Attorneys and judges have been able to find impartial jurors in other high-profile cases in Los Angeles County, he said.
“The county is such that we can get a fair jury,” Sortino said.
Susan Seager, an attorney representing the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press, opposed the defense motion.