Patterico's Pontifications

9/26/2007

Hung Jury in Spector Case

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 5:11 pm



The Phil Spector jury declared itself deadlocked today, 10-2 for guilt. The judge declared a mistrial. The D.A. intends to try him again.

I think that’s all I’ll say about it. But your comments are welcome.

I hope the media does more interviews with jurors. I’d be interested to know what they were thinking.

48 Responses to “Hung Jury in Spector Case”

  1. I don’t want to be unfair, really, but this doesn’t do much for California’s reputation on law and order. Can Californians convict any celebrity?

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  2. Sure: Winona Ryder.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  3. I hope Phil doesn’t rest until the “real” killers are caught.

    insider (3dc591)

  4. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

    Given their recent communications to the judge, the obvious guess would be that they could get to a manslaughter conviction, but couldn’t agree that the elements for murder had been met.

    Itsme (f3d400)

  5. Hmmm, wait:

    One of the jurors said the holdouts were arguing over whether Clarkson was suicidal

    Itsme (f3d400)

  6. Itsme, in that case the instructions were faulty (unless California law does not allow instructions on lesser includeds).

    nk (7d4710)

  7. Fair enough. I guess there’s also Robert Downey, Jr.

    I’m not impugning the prosecution. My concern is with California juries. For whatever reason, it seems like they have a hard time convicting celebrities charged with major crimes. Maybe that would be true anywhere but California has more celebrities so it’s more obvious.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  8. Right. Can you provide me examples of other jurisdictions that regularly convict celebrities?

    Our society is celebrity-crazy. Look at the way people obsessed over that woman who went to jail for a short time.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  9. She came home with a lovely poncho as I recall.

    Itsme (f3d400)

  10. (Paris Hilton. I blanked on her name for a second, but if I don’t put it down, people will accuse me of posturing by pretending to forget.)

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  11. Now wait a minute, Patterico. I don’t think it’s fair to generalize from obsessions for sexy young blondes (don’t forget Britney) to rejects from the extras of “Night Of The Living Dead” like Spector. (I’d put a smiley here but you said you hate them.)

    nk (7d4710)

  12. Actually, I’m having a hard time thinking of any modern-day celebrities (excluding politicians or high-profile businessmen) charged with murder or other serious crimes. Who else is there?

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  13. Of course, also excluding OJ and Robert Blake.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  14. Is there any correlation between the length of a criminal trial and the likelihood of a hung jury, i.e., the longer the trial, the more likely a jury will have a problem reaching consensus?

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  15. Well, one observation I’d make is that certain professionals are going to have a hard time serving on a jury for that length of time. You tend to get more government workers, whose places of employment pay for unlimited service.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  16. Gov’t workers …
    Yeh, we know what dunces they are.

    Another Drew (4d2fc0)

  17. I paid attention to the Spector trial, and despite how the jury’s indecision is being played in the press (and here) there is another very good possibility: He didn’t fire the gun.

    Sure, Spector has a horrible history of brandishing weapons at women, and a gun did come out here. But despite every important decision by Fidler favoring the whining prosecutor, Jackson, and in the face of a defense team that couldn’t get their act or theme together, the scientific evidence casts extreme doubt over whether he could have fired the deadly shot.

    The likely scenario? Well, what wasn’t emphasized was that Spector’s DNA was on her breast, and hers was found on his privates. What wasn’t admitted was her inclusion in a convicted madame’s (Babydol Gibson’s, if I have the name correct) book of escorts. Clarkson was undoubtedly depressed, financially wiped out, and her acting career hopeless. So she meets a star, drinks heavily while downing Vicodins, and has a humiliating sexual interaction with the fossil. Even if there was a struggle, she wins — much bigger, younger, stronger, and he’s impaired too.

    nosh (56a0a8)

  18. Wasn’t Snoop Dogg accused of murder a few years back?

    John Barrett Jr. (241ec0)

  19. KFI Radio aired an interview with the jury foreman. They were 10-2 for conviction. He was pretty pissed at the 2 jurors that would not convict. They thought Spectors defense was BS.

    Bud Dickman (2a4d4b)

  20. Nosh,

    Spector comes out gun in hand stating he just shot someone. Quacks like a duck to me.

    Bud Dickman (2a4d4b)

  21. nosh #17:

    What wasn’t admitted was her inclusion in a convicted madame’s (Babydol Gibson’s, if I have the name correct) book of escorts.

    Aside from the fact it was a likely forgery, it wasn’t admitted because Babydol’s story was ruled inadmissible and irrelevant, as well as highly prejudicial.

    Book

    Itsme (f3d400)

  22. But despite every important decision by Fidler favoring the whining prosecutor, Jackson . . .

    That’s where I stopped reading.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  23. Wasn’t Snoop Dogg accused of murder a few years back?

    Attempted murder. Weirdest thing, though — LAPD lost the critical evidence. Weirdest thing — they had some folks on their payroll who were also working for Suge Knight.

    Which leads me to a really, really weird story in today’s LAT — which I may not even blog about, even though I really want to.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  24. Good plan in #21, Patterico, it didn’t get better.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  25. DRJ #7:

    I’m not impugning the prosecution. My concern is with California juries. For whatever reason, it seems like they have a hard time convicting celebrities charged with major crimes. Maybe that would be true anywhere but California has more celebrities so it’s more obvious.

    I dunno. Maybe there is the fame factor, but how many fabulously wealthy people with an army of high-paid lawyers get convicted of crimes anywhere?

    Itsme (f3d400)

  26. Another victory for the NRA?

    alphie (99bc18)

  27. Good grief nosh – your scenario sounds a bit convenient. You’re missing the fact that Mr. Spector has a long history of sadistic behavior with a gun.

    Your scenario: She was depressed because her acting career wasn’t happening (except she wasn’t a dedicated, passionately serious actress) and she was broke (if she was a hooker as you imply, she’d be a very attractive hooker and running in that crowd – likely to command some serious fees where a month’s rent could rustled up in one evening, maybe two) and so depressed that she took alcohol and vicodin to drown her sorrows (except this is a pretty common rock ‘n roll cocktail, and the overwhelming amount of people who do recreational drugs do them for fun, not to drown their woes).

    “You know, I’m depressed by failed acting career, my 40 year old fading looks, and I took drugs to numb this pain, but instead I ended up having sex with you Mr. Spector, resulting in an unintended crushing downward spike my self esteem, so bad that I really must kill myself right now in your entry hall. I know this is a bit of a bother, but could you be a dear and go rustle up a loaded pistol so I can blow my brains out?”

    I’ve met both of them. She was very sweet and simple (it was a brief introduction at a party for a rock ‘n roll star). Another time I met Spector at the Polo Lounge. He hit the ground nasty. Bizarre – completely out of the blue. He is a geniuinely sick, twisted guy. Before the end of the evening – and it was a short evening, he had threatened to kill me. I am but one of hundreds. Literally, hundreds. I know of half a dozen people with similar experiences. I know people who have known him from the beginning who have awful things to say about him.

    Lastly, while were conjecting with ridiculous scenarios composed of hackneyed “B” movie plots and convenient courtroom arguments (Oh, if she took drugs – she’s capable of anything!) Imagine taking a loaded a pistol, shoving it into a strange woman’s mouth, insisting she fellate it or die and sexually getting off on her fear? Can you imagine that? I don’t get it. But this is Mr. Spector’s documented behavior. Well that scenario is far more likely (since he has a history of doing this). (BTW – psychiatric definition of SADIST “sexual gratification gained through causing pain or degradation to others”.

    Enough ranting. Hello Patterico!

    Dale Launer (ae360b)

  28. IMO, PS is certifiable. But is he a murderer? All of the prior instances of threatening gun play failed to result in death, or even injury. To me, that mitigates his behavior this time. Why would he pull the trigger this time, instead of any number of prior occasions?

    No gunfire residue is a powerful piece of forensics to me. Extremely powerful.

    He is certainly guilty of creating a dangerous situation. I do not know what the law says about the brandishing of a gun. Is it reckless assault? I’d convict him in a nanosecond for this.

    But if I sat on a criminal jury, I would have a very hard time convicting him of murder. Civilly, the fool wouldn’t have two nickels to put together after I got through with him.

    My theory of the crime is very much like nosh’s. I think she was lucid enough to understand just how ridiculously low she had become by being in this circumstance. But she wasn’t lucid enough for her self-defense (commmon sense) thinking to stop her. PS’ statement fits very well in this theory. He sure as heck made it possible for LC to die, but did he pull the trigger?

    Ed (4b08ed)

  29. Another victory for the NRA?

    Yeah, ‘cuz the NRA is so, like, influential in California, and stuff. Jesus, Alf, didn’t your momma ever explain to you that ignorance and sarcasm don’t mix?

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  30. Average Californians sure are lucky that more celebrities aren’t homicidal. OJ really got a bad break when the hotel he had to rob was in Vegas, instead of LA. Now he may actually go to prison.

    Justin (ac5fc4)

  31. Well, xlrq,

    Here’s a crazy guy who has been running around threatening people with guns for 30 years…and he still managed to acquire an arsenal legally.

    That’s gotta be a triumph for the NRA.

    alphie (99bc18)

  32. Dale Launer from comment #26, by the way, is the man who wrote “My Cousin Vinny.” I can confirm the comment is genuine because I know Dale and have heard the story from him before. (It’s actually quite entertaining when he tells it at length.)

    Hello yourself, Dale.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  33. But is he a murderer? All of the prior instances of threatening gun play failed to result in death, or even injury. To me, that mitigates his behavior this time. Why would he pull the trigger this time, instead of any number of prior occasions?

    Maybe he didn’t intend to. Maybe he pointed it at her and it went off by accident, or during a struggle over it.

    No gunfire residue is a powerful piece of forensics to me. Extremely powerful.

    Gunshot residue is notoriously fickle evidence. And it washes off very easily.

    He is certainly guilty of creating a dangerous situation. I do not know what the law says about the brandishing of a gun.

    You don’t think he pointed it at her?

    If he had merely brandished it, resulting in her death, without pointing it, that could support a verdict of involuntary manslaughter. That’s the instruction that Judge Fidler ultimately concluded he should probably have given up front — but that he didn’t feel he could give in the middle of deliberations, after the announcement of a deadlock. I would expect that instruction to be given next time.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  34. Technical question. Doesn’t California law permit the defendant to request instructions on and argue all lesser included offenses?

    nk (7d4710)

  35. Yes, but as I understand it from news reports, the defense rejected a lesser as a strategic call.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  36. Another problem with the Nosh theory is that the book of hookers said to have included the victim’s name (as if that is a good reason to kill someone) was edited in different ink to put an “L” before “ana” and a “Cl” below the name. No other entry had initials for last names.

    Alta Bob (c549e9)

  37. I think they stumbled over the part about why an 8-foot-tall Wookie would live with a bunch of Ewoks.

    Crank (af4dca)

  38. Oh, Patterico, after reading your response and further consideration I throw myself on my sword. My goodness, how presumptuous of me to mention that every important decision by the judge in the Spector trial favored the prosecution — Allowing 1101(b) testimony that was actually used for the purpose of convicting him based on prior acts, when those events occurred from a decade to two decades before. Originally disallowing the fifth witness in the prosecution’s case-in-chief and then reversing himself so she could be presented during rebuttal for the best possible dramatic effect. Changing the instructions when there was a 7-5 impasse and then giving four scenarios, two of them unsupported by any evidence or argument, to make it easier for the prosecution. To say nothing of the Henry Lee fiasco. And oh my, for me not to recognize that Alan Jackson is the new D.A. rock star and to call him out.

    Yeah, Patterico, don’t read further. Just keep your head in the sand so you can argue inconsequential infinitesimals rather than confront anything that might burst your perfect little bubble.

    nosh (56a0a8)

  39. Your previous commentators were asking about the unwillingness of jurys to convict in California. For a example of a physician who skated off a rape trial on the basis of an incredible tale (he and his wife testified that the complainant had taken his semen sample from the lab) check out LASC for People v. Charles Metzger. Decision came down about the same time as the OJ criminal decision.

    Publius Civitatis (986333)

  40. 33/34:

    A textual reading of PC 1159 says they are entitled to it, but People v. Preston (1973) 9 Cal.3d 308 at 319 says that the defense isn’t entitled to lessers under some circumstance. (SODDI/Alibi defense; court appropriately denied giving lessers to first degree murder when there was no evidence that a lesser crime occurred.)

    I’m not shocked at a 10-2 hang on anything. Two jurors is one unconvinceable ratchethead and one follower. Been there, done that.

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  41. Who do ya gotta kill to get convicted around here?

    Independent Conservative (353e3c)

  42. IMO, PS is certifiable. But is he a murderer? All of the prior instances of threatening gun play failed to result in death, or even injury. To me, that mitigates his behavior this time. Why would he pull the trigger this time, instead of any number of prior occasions?

    If you get away with noxious, dangerous, and criminally negligent behavior long enough you’re somehow then no longer responsible for that behavior? If I hold up banks with a gun, and never have to shoot anyone, but then, this last time, it all went wrong, and I blew a teller away, am I any less a murderer? Hell, that’s a death penalty bounce. What’s the cliche? If you play with fire enough you’re eventually gonna get burned. If you stick a gun in enough faces eventually you’re probably going to shoot someone.

    What’s up with Jayson Williams these days?

    Fritz (d62210)

  43. ” If you stick a gun in enough faces eventually you’re probably going to shoot someone.”

    – Fritz

    Pablo said it well yesterday: “It is, of course, not a crime to have a gun nor to let people know you have a gun, nor to draw a gun”

    The only reason your bank robber example works is the felony murder rule.

    Leviticus (35fbde)

  44. Prior instances of threatening gun play.

    It is a crime to threaten someone with a gun. Also, when you have a gun, whether you’re threatening anyone or not, you are responsible for that gun. If I’m showing my buddy the nice new gun I just bought and I drop it on the floor and it goes off, at which time the bullet travels through the wall of my house and strikes my neighbor in the leg, am I legally responsible?

    Fritz (d62210)

  45. Wasn’t her purse on her shoulder, like she was about to leave?

    Fritz (d62210)

  46. “If I’m showing my buddy the nice new gun I just bought and I drop it on the floor and it goes off, at which time the bullet travels through the wall of my house and strikes my neighbor in the leg, am I legally responsible?”

    -Fritz

    Yes… for negligence, maybe. Certainly not for anything premeditated.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  47. Here’s a crazy guy who has been running around threatening people with guns for 30 years…and he still managed to acquire an arsenal legally.

    That’s gotta be a triumph for the NRA.

    Perhaps so, if by “the NRA” you mean “some goofy liberal’s hallucinations about the NRA.” Otherwise, feel free to pass along whatever documentation you may have of the NRA arguing that crazy guys who threaten people with guns for 30 years should be allowed to acquire guns legally.

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  48. As I wrote before, I’d have little problem convicting him of felonious handling of the weapon. I am ignorant as to the escalation from assault to battery to manslaughter and anything in between. Involuntary manslaughter may just be the ticket for me. But THIS jury did not have that option, absent nullification (as you pointed out).

    Question for Pat – how egregious an error was it to purposefully not charge the lesser includeds? Should there be a consequence for the person(s) within the DA’s office? If not why not? If so, what corrective action should be taken?

    Finally, if it really is a close call for the pros as to the proper charging of this crime, why should this jury be subject to such a high level of ridicule?

    Ed (4b08ed)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3077 secs.