Thursday, July 12, 2007
S.C. Turns Down Spector Lawyer’s Bid to Block Jailing for Contempt
By Kenneth Ofgang, Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday declined to review Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler’s order that a former attorney for record producer Phil Spector be held in contempt for refusing to testify against her ex-client.
The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco, voted 6-0 not to hear the petition brought on behalf of Beverly Hills attorney Sara Caplan. Prosecutors want Caplan to testify about her claim, made at an earlier hearing in the case, that famed criminalist Dr. Henry Lee picked up an object, which Caplan said was about the size of a fingernail, that police missed in a search of Spector’s Alhambra mansion.
Lee has told The Associated Press that Caplan was mistaken and that Fidler was wrong to find that he had withheld evidence. He said Tuesday he was flying to China and did not know whether he would testify at the trial.
He added that the defense had “so many experts” it might not need him.
Spector is currently on trial in Fidler’s downtown Los Angeles courtroom on charges of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in February 2003. Clarkson, whom Spector allegedly met at the House of Blues in West Hollywood where she worked as a hostess, died after a shooting at the Spector residence.
Prosecutors say Spector killed her. The defense contends Clarkson committed suicide.
Fidler last month ordered Caplan to testify, rejecting her contention that compelling her to do so would violate Spector’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Caplan refused, and faces imminent incarceration after the high court lifted a previous stay of Fidler’s order that had been granted by Chief Justice Ronald M. George.
Attorneys for Caplan could not be immediately reached for comment.
In other conference action, the justices unanimously agreed to decide two cases reaching conflicting results on double-jeopardy issues related to the trial of enhancement allegations.
One case, People v. Anderson, C047502. involves the “One-Strike Law,” which mandates a sentence of 15 years to life or 25 years to life in prison for certain sex crimes.
The appellant, Barry Lane Anderson, is serving an aggregate sentence of 36 years to life after being convicted in Sacramento Superior Court of molesting one five-year-old girl, and attempting to molest another, at a Sacramento apartment complex, and of a number of counts of possessing child pornography.
At his first trial, jurors found Anderson guilty of committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a minor but deadlocked on the special allegation that the victim was kidnapped. At a second trial, the special allegation was found true, making the One-Strike Law applicable.
The Third District Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and sentence, but the high court yesterday agreed to review the case in order to determine whether retrial of the special allegation was barred, on the theory that the offense of which he was convicted was a lesser included offense of the “one-strike” offense, and his conviction thus barred a retrial of the special allegation on double jeopardy principles.
The justices said they would also decide whether it was proper to retry Anderson on the special allegation alone and not on the underlying charge.
The other case is Porter v. Superior Court, H029884. The Monterey Superior Court jury in that case, which stemmed from a drive-by shooting, found Anthony Porter. guilty of two counts of attempted murder and made true findings as to special allegations that the crimes were premeditated and were committed for the benefit of a street gang.
The trial judge allowed the guilty verdicts to stand, but granted a new trial on the special allegations. The Sixth District Court of Appeal, however, ruled that the retrial would place the defendant in double jeopardy and ordered the allegations stricken.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company