Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day 55 & 56

No testimony was presented today. Just arguments on jury instructions.

First off, I have a clarification. At the end of court today, Wendy asked Mr. Weinberg about Friday's, through the end of the trial and whether or not court will be in session on Friday through the end of the trial. Weinberg replied that Mr. Spector had a standing (medical?) appointment on Friday, so that day is out. I don't know if this "corrects" what I believe I heard on Monday or if it's "in addition to" what I believe heard on Monday.

Regardless, watching paint dry is more exciting that trying to follow the arguments for jury instructions. I will have an update on yesterday's and today's proceedings much later tonight.

Oh! I almost forgot! Another DDA passed me in the hall right at the end of the lunch break and told me to congratulate Alan (Jackson). He was promoted to "Assistant Head" of Major Crimes division in the DA's office. After I congratulated him, I asked him if he knew about this. He said that it came as a total surprise. Truc also learned just as I was getting ready to step into the elevators that Josh, their clerk through this trial, got hired as a DDA. T&T Congratulates Jackson and Josh on their new job assignments.

A profile on Alan Jackson.

Update: March 11th, 2009, 9:15 pm
I did not attend jury instructions yesterday, but in my comments on Day 54, I covered a little bit of what happened. Not much.

Today, jury instructions were so boring, towards the end I almost fell asleep. I took quite a bit of notes, but decided not to transcribe them all. Dennis Riordan came down from the Bay area to assist Weinberg in crafting jury instructions. There were only three people in the gallery in the morning and two in the afternoon. I was the only one who stayed until the end, which was about 3:00 pm.

On about 95% of the instructions to be used in this trial, the defense had no objection There are still some instructions where language has to be modified or newly crafted to accommodate the circumstances of this case. Both parties will be working on those instructions over the coming days.

There are two new significant issues in this trial. The first being that there will be a jury instruction on the 1101(b) witnesses. There wasn't in the last trial. Second, the prosecution feels they and the court, have a sua sponte duty to ask for lesser included's in jury instructions. What this means is, the prosecution is asking that the charge of manslaughter be added for the jury to consider. The defense also wants a special instruction and the people are opposed to it. That still needs to be decided.

Last year, I clearly remember Fidler ruling that because the gun was inside Ms. Clarkson's mouth, that ruled out manslaughter. However, Fidler is reconsidering that ruling because of a case on this issue, Lee. Unfortunately, I don't have the specific case number and I will try to get it tomorrow.

Truc Do does the majority of the prosecution's presentation on jury instructions. I will try to sum up the basic tenor of the argument to include the charge of manslaughter.

TD: We think we have a duty, sua sponte based on brandishing. [...] In terms of factual patterns with Lee... [...] Based on Lee, we have at minimum, the defendant committed a brandishing (act). On Lee (the court ruled) it had a duty to charge, even if there is other circumstantial evidence that proved (a higher charge of murder). [...] At minimum, the defendant has brandished.

DR: She died while there was a firearm in her mouth. We don't believe there is any way to argue [....] There isn't a rational argument that this is less than second degree murder. I, we just don't see (it). The people have said a brandishing, either that brandishing led to Mr. Spector putting the gun in Ms. Clarkson's mouth and on that, we have second degree.

Fidler: I'm going to respond. The question is, do I have a sua sponte duty to give it (the lesser charge). When I started to (this) the first time and trying to interpret Lee, I thought the same. My original thought was, the gun is in the mouth. [...] But that's where it finishes. [...] But the brandishing, (it's) there in the beginning. Like Ms. Do said in her argument, that's the actual result. (In Lee, the court ruled ~in that case~ "the gun against the head." That's not brandishing either, (yet they ruled that the lesser included charge should be given). It's not where it ends up (but it's where it starts). [...] We don't know how it got there, si I think Lee says that it (the charge) has to (be given). (So that's where I'm at) but I'm willing to listen.

The rest of the afternoon all three parties, prosecution, defense and court present arguments on the manslaughter issue and some time on the special instruction the defense wants added.

There was a short discussion on how many witnesses are left. Weinberg stated that his last witness is Dr. Loftus. Jackson told me after court that they are "trying" to keep their rebuttal witnesses down to "less than a half dozen" but they are not sure even at this point who all they are going to call. They believe they will call three or five, and those witnesses will take "two or three days."

It is unknown at this time if Weinberg is going to put on a sur-rebuttal case or not. I asked Jackson a hypothetical that, if Weinberg puts on Punkin Pie as part of a sur-rebuttal case, could he then put on witnesses to counter her testimony and how many times can that go back and forth? Jackson stated that yes, he could put on a witness to counter Pie, and the Judge could decide how far he would let that go on, with new witnesses called, back and forth.

Jackson did state that they will be calling a rebuttal witness out of order within the defense case ( believe Detective Katz) tomorrow morning. I got the impression that this is going to be a very short witness, and then we go onto Dr. Loftus. If, if, if, Weinberg choose NOT to put on a sur-rebuttal case, we could possibly get to closing arguments by the end of next week, or the beginning of the following week. It all depends on what the defense decides to do.

Court starts tomorrow at 9:30 am. I also want to give a little "nice to meet you" to a gentleman I got to talk to for just a moment at the end of the day on Monday. I forgot to mention him in my notes for that day. He is an avid T&T reader who traveled cross country with his daughter and while in Los Angeles, decided to drop in on the trial. I wanted to tell him that I'm sorry I had to run and that our chat was so short.

P.S. I have also wanted to give a shout out to a blog I've been reading the past month or so, The Aries Point, and this is just as good a time as any. The Aries Point has taken a look at Phil Spector's astrological chart and posted a few entries on it. I have always had a passing interest in astrology. Not because I follow or study it but because I find the whole premise behind astrology intriguing. Please note that the blogger states they are a "student" of astrology.


Anonymous said...

Congrats, Mr. Jackson! You are a brilliant trial the the best that I have ever watched. I would have to say the best. My dad is one and he is in awe of you as well.

Anonymous said...

If Alan Jackson continues on his course he seems to have chosen, he will become famous as an advocate for justice as well as be known as one of the great attorneys of the century. I do not think these words are exaggerated. There are few "heroes" in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sprocket. I look forward to you coverage of this trail. You deserve a vacation when this ones over. I have a fear Spector will find some way to get admitted into a hospital just to get out of this. It worries me when I hear he has doctor appointments. Keep up the good work and God bless you.

Anonymous said...


Was the telephone man involved?

katfish said...

Congratulations to Alan Jackson and Josh! This goes to show that hard work really does pay. I know from watching him work and different comments that have been made A.J. has dedicated himself to his work and the pursuit of justice.
I assume that Josh has also worked very hard to achieve his goals and wish him all the best.

I love good news!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sprocket!! Just had to say: GREAT JOB!! I look forward every day to your posts on this trial!!



Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Alan Jackson!!

Not to sound frivolous, but he's cute! Is he married?

Anonymous said...


Could you explain what the special instruction is that the defence wants added?


Anonymous said...

I recall that the jury instructions last time may have been a large contributing factor in the fact that there was an acquittal, and the fact that they were changed after the jury was deliberating. Hope that this time the jury instructions are not derailed by the defense. Weinberg is in his element here......

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jackson, you are the berries and you deserve all the good things in life. congratulations.

Sprocket, as always, you are wonderful. You are our lifeline to this trial. I only hope that Spector knows that there are people out here in the world who have not forgotten Lana and still wish that justice prevails.
Again thank you.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Alan Jackson! A well deserved recognition of his talent and work ethic.

If he, Pat Dixon and Truc do had been prosecuting O.J., the jury would not have been done in 30 minutes!

Anonymous said...

Yep Alan Jackson is the total stud of District Attorney-dom!

I heard a talking-head cable show once that said CA has so many rules and instructions in place that it precludes many convictions that should have been. Any comments from legal-eagles out there?

And why does the defense side attract so many kooks (Reubel, Harvey, the mannish gym teacher, etc)...anyone?

woot said...

First, congrats to AJ and Josh. This prosecution team with TD has impressed as the best I,ve seen. If manslaughter is offered I assume it will be "aggravated'? Also a gun charge, used in a felony? If so we,re talking about some serius time, especially if run consecutive, effectively 'Life' for PS. If true, I have no problem with that. Think The Westin better get thier $104,0000 quick.....prob too late.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks again Sprocket

I went looking for the case of Lee - and this one People v. Lee (1999) is mentioned in the jury instructions for calcrim 570 (Voluntary manslaughter). It is online at & I wish I understood the law more when reading the detail but I think it decided - "If there was an error in instructing on voluntary manslaughter, that error was favorable to the defendant ... Defendant may not complain on appeal about errors favorable to him." It does, to me indicate that the evidence in the Lee case supported murder 2, but the jury returned voluntary manslaughter. If a similar thing happened in the PS case, presumably it could not be appealed for similar reasons ??

(I may well have it incorrect)