Law Practice

Lawyer Quits Spector Murder Trial

Five months of testimony in Phil Spector’s murder trial ended with a bang-up finale yesterday, as his best-known lawyer withdrew from the case after the legendary music producer decided to have another defense attorney spearhead the upcoming closing argument.

Spector, 67, said during a lunch recess that he had decided not to put Bruce Cutler in charge of the closing argument, in part because of the New York City lawyer’s bruising style. However, Spector also felt that Cutler’s rapport with the jury had eroded because he spent a lot of time away from court during the trial working on a television show, reports the Los Angeles Times. As discussed in an earlier post, Cutler is serving as the judge on a reality television program, Jury Duty, featuring a jury made up of three celebrities.

Cutler told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler that he was seeking to withdraw, with Spector’s consent, because he disagrees with the defense summation strategy, and hence can no longer effectively represent his client, and Fidler agreed that he could withdraw. Outside court, Cutler said he and Spector agreed he would withdraw after Spector decided another defense lawyer would lead the closing argument, the Times reports. “Phil wants to fight this case differently than I want to fight it,” Cutler said.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Sept. 5.

Spector is facing a second-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting to death Lana Clarkson, 40, a restaurant hostess and former movie actress, in the wee hours of Feb. 3, 2003. He says she shot herself.

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