Wednesday, November 20, 2013
C.A. Upholds Restraining Orders Obtained by Singer, Film Mogul
By JUSTIN LEVINE, Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal has upheld a pair of restraining orders sought by singer Sheryl Crow and film mogul Harvey Weinstein against a man who threatened to shoot both of them.
Phillip Gordon Sparks claimed that Crow stole $5.5 million from him, filmed him illegally on behalf of Weinstein’s production company, blacklisted him, broke into his apartment, and tried to have him arrested. He repeated his allegations on the Facebook site for the SAG-AFTRA union that represents entertainers.
He sent an email to several executives at Weinstein’s company, stating that while he was homeless, he encountered Weinstein in an alley where the homeless urinate and that the movie executive said to him, “How do you like me taking your money, Phil?”
Sparks later contacted SAG-AFTRA directly, claiming that both Crow and Weinstein broke into his apartment. After a union employee told him that SAG-AFTRA could not help him and that he should hire an attorney, Sparks said, “I’ll just shoot them,” apparently referring to Crow and Weinstein.
Crow sought a restraining order against him in July 2012, stating in a declaration that she did not know Sparks, but was concerned he might harm her or her family members and friends. Weinstein filed his own request for a restraining order approximately two weeks later.
During a hearing on the restraining order requests, Sparks testified on his own behalf, claiming Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen had been brokering a deal with Crow and Weinstein to get his money back and place him on a reality show before she was murdered. Chasen was found shot to death in her car in Beverly Hills in November 2010, and reports later stated that the main suspect in Chasen’s death committed suicide after police went to search his apartment.
Sparks said at the court hearing that Crow had approached him at 2:30 a.m. and told him, “I’m going to kill you like we killed Ronni Chasen.”
A psychiatrist testified at the hearing, saying that he had spoken to Sparks and concluded that he presented a danger to Crow and Weinstein.
Superior Court Judge James K. Hahn issued the requested restraining orders. Sparks later appealed, arguing pro per that Hahn abused his discretion in issuing the orders, which he claimed were based on insufficient evidence.
In an unpublished opinion written by Justice Sandy Kriegler of Div. Five, the appellate court unanimously upheld the validity of the restraining orders, stating that the “clear and convincing” evidence requirement for issuing such orders under Civil Procedure §527.6 had been met.
“The declarations alone provided substantial evidence that Sparks engaged in a course of harassing conduct that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and did cause Crow and Weinstein to suffer such distress…Sparks posted meritless accusations against both Crow and Weinstein, claims to have seen Weinstein with his family in Santa Monica, and admits to having threatened to shoot both of them.”
Kriegler rejected Sparks’ argument that his civil rights were violated because he was not offered a chance to cross-examine Crow or Weinstein. He said that in a hearing regarding the issuance of restraining orders, evidence by deposition, affidavit, or oral testimony was sufficient and that “[n]othing requires a party…to testify at the hearing, subject to cross-examination.”
Krieger further said that he would not “second-guess” the trial court’s conclusions about the credibility of witnesses or the reasonable inferences it drew from the evidence that was presented.
He also ruled that Sparks forfeited his right to challenge the psychiatrist’s qualifications as an expert witness on appeal by failing to raise an objection about it beforehand.
The case is Crow v. Sparks, B243458.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company