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Spector to hire a new legal team

Times Staff Writer

A week after a jury deadlocked on whether to convict Phil Spector of murder, plans for his retrial got underway Wednesday with talk of a new defense team for the famed music producer.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler scheduled Spector to appear at a hearing Oct. 23 with new attorneys to defend him against charges that he shot actress Lana Clarkson to death in his Alhambra mansion four years ago. Half a dozen attorneys, whose identities are not public, are said to be in discussions with Spector about taking over the case. Three members of Spector’s recent defense team will not stay on for a retrial.

During the brief court hearing, which Spector did not attend, Fidler made it clear that he wanted Spector’s new counsel to be ready for trial in less than the six months his current legal team believes will be needed to adequately prepare a defense.

Last week, Fidler declared a mistrial in the nearly six-month-long case after a jury ended 12 days of deliberation with the announcement that it was deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of convicting Spector of second-degree murder, the only charge they were allowed to consider.

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Three of the jurors later told reporters that prosecutors convinced most of the jury that Spector, 67, shot Clarkson when she tried to leave his home in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2003.

The three jurors also said that the two holdouts against conviction were convinced by defense theories that Clarkson could have shot herself -- accidentally or on purpose -- particularly after the prosecution decided not to provide a detailed psychological analysis of Clarkson to rebut that possibility.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Roger J. Rosen, who had been Spector’s lead lawyer for much of the trial, formally announced he would not continue with the case. Also leaving the case will be lawyers Linda Kenney Baden and Bradley Brunon.

Only Christopher J. Plourd and Dennis Riordan are expecting to stay on the defense team, though Plourd told the judge Wednesday that the status of any holdover attorneys will be dependent on the wishes of Spector’s new lead counsel.

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Plourd told Fidler that it could be difficult to find attorneys who will be free of other cases and capable enough to be ready for a retrial in the four months sought by the judge.

“Good lawyers are going to be busy,” Plourd said.

He asked the judge to consider a new trial date of at least six months from now to allow Spector’s next defense team to adequately review the mountain of evidence. But Fidler said that a delay in the trial of six to eight months “would not be acceptable” to him.

Spector already has been through 10 lawyers -- including well-known criminal attorneys Leslie Abramson, Robert Shapiro and Bruce Cutler -- since his arrest.

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Outside court, Rosen said he agreed with Spector’s decision to seek new lawyers who can provide “new eyes and ears” in the case.

“I have fulfilled my responsibility and obligation to Phil,” Rosen said. “And I have other clients and I think it is the right thing to do in terms of turning my attention to them.”

greg.krikorian@latimes.com


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