Update 4/13/2011: New entry covering oral arguments.
Right now, at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in downtown Los Angeles, The California State Court of Appeal (Second District, Division Three) oral arguments are being presented for Phil Spector's appeal of his second-degree murder conviction. Spector was convicted on April 13th, 2009 for the February 3rd, 2003 shooting death of Lana Clarkson at his "Pyrenees Castle". Spector's defense strategy at his first and second trial put forth the theory that Clarkson shot herself with a gun from Spector's home.
Spector's appeal claims several points of judicial error. I've roughly outlined those points below.
1. Judge Fidler made "testimonial" statements at his second trial that violated Spector's right to confrontation.
2. Uncharged brandishing offenses should not have been allowed.
3. The "profane" statements allowed through Officer Tannazzo should not have been allowed.
4. Prosecutorial misconduct – referring to the pay of Spector's experts.
I will not give my personal opinion on the appeal, but I will make a few observations about the appeal. The Appellant (Spector) refers many times to the first trial. I thought that was interesting in light of the fact that anything that happened during the first trial does not matter. The only thing that matters is what happened at the second trial. Dennis Riordan, viewed to be a brilliant appellate attorney among his peers, knows this.
I've received an opinion from an "expert," a licensed attorney not affiliated with the case, a law professor in fact who read all three briefs on the appeal at my request. Below are just a few excerpts from the opinion they sent me on the merits of the appeal.
"Prosecutorial misconduct is extremely, extremely hard to prove. Spector's lawyers would have to show that the comments affected the outcome of the case."
"Even if the judge "testified" about the blood spatter on the hands during the Lintemoot testimony in my mind there is "NO WAY" that violates the Confrontation Clause - under the Crawford analysis. The term "testimonial" has a very special meaning under Crawford, and I do not see that the Judge's comments in any way rise to that level. And, the defense did have an opportunity to question the Judge even if it was testimonial."
My "expert" felt that the other two claims of the appeal are the only issues that have legs. However, they did state they felt that the appellate court would give "deference on appeal" to the trial judge on those issues.
I've been told by my friends in the mainstream media that California law requires a decision to be rendered within 90 days of the oral arguments being heard. They felt that the decision would probably be issued within six to eight weeks.