Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A "Joan of Arc" Moment

June 6, 2007

With her lips quivering, I could have sworn Sara Caplan was about to cry, or was on the verge of an emotional deluge. As Steven Mikulan described today's explosive events after court ended for the day, "It was her Joan of Arc moment. She was stamping out the flames at her feet."

Counsel for Sara Caplan, in his argument to Judge Fidler said, "She will not testify. In 40 years, I've never heard of a case where a former attorney has been forced to testify against her former client. I'm asking you with all due humility, your honor. Don't make her to testify against her client." Judge Fidler said that "My sense of justice is not only to Ms. Caplan, or Mr. Spector, or the prosecution, it's also to Ms. Clarkson and justice herself." Fidler reiterated his prior ruling, citing several cases including Meredith and Fairbanks that this issue of missing evidence is not covered under attorney client privilege. Ms. Caplan's counsel pleads to Judge Fidler, "It's not a choice for her. I'm quoting the cannons of ethics. She's being forced to come here. It's not right! It's not legal!"

Judge Fidler replies, I respectfully disagree. It is her duty. It is legal."

After several representatives of Spector's current legal team stand up to argue against Ms. Caplan testifying, Spector turns to watch Ms. Caplan's counsel who pleads, "I'm begging you not to do this." Judge Fidler replies back, "I'm begging you not to do this."

Judge Fidler said , "In almost 25 years on the bench, I've never held an attorney in contempt. I take this very seriously, and I think she is making a terrible mistake."

Then, in a last ditch effort, Ms. Caplan stood up to plead her case herself. With an emotionally heavy voice, Ms. Caplan stood before Judge Larry Fidler and quoted the Meredith case law back to him, stressing that in the Meredith ruling an investigator testified; nowhere did it state that an attorney could be called to the stand. Maybe it was Ms. Caplan's emotional state, who knows, but after her brave stand to defend herself, Judge Fidler blinked. "We're not going to be deciding this today in any event," he said. Fidler delayed making a decision again, saying he would be getting advice from other sources and everyone would be meeting back here, at 9:00 am Monday morning to continue the issue.

But Judge Fidler wasn't done. While Rosen was trying to argue that there was no need for Ms. Caplan to testify, "Because we have this other witness" (Stan White), Judge Fidler snaps back, "It's disingenuous to present that, because you know you're going to attack that witness."

What would happen if Judge Fidler held Ms. Caplan in contempt? Well, jail for one, until she testifies. Dominick Dunne said that he couldn't imagine that she would be put in jail. That could be a public relations nightmare for the court, and he felt that she would most likely be fined until she complied.