Phil Spector Jury Says Its Deadlocked

The Judge sent the Phil Spector jury home today after it advised the judge it was deadlocked, 7 to 5. (Background here.)

The Judge is hearing arguments this afternoon as to what to do. I think he should declare a mistrial. One thing he shouldn't do, as apparently he's contemplating, is give the jury a lesser charge to consider at this late date.

The parties agreed to only submit the murder charge. The Judge endorsed that decision.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler told attorneys Wednesday he pondered whether there could be "lesser included offenses," which might allow the jury to consider voluntary or involuntary manslaughter rather than murder. "I don't see it," he concluded. Both the prosecution and defense agreed that the legal definitions of lesser crimes do not fit this case.

The parties relied on there only being a murder charge in composing and delivering their closing arguments. To allow the jury to consider a charge neither side had the opportunity to address and argue would be manifestly unfair in my view.

The Judge should declare a mistrial.

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    what does california law say? (none / 0) (#1)
    by txpublicdefender on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 04:58:59 PM EST
    I'd be shocked if any jurisdiction allowed for instructing the jury on lesser charges after they began deliberations.  You have three problems:

    1.  The court's previous finding that none of the lesser charges applied.
    2.  The fact that neither side presented any argument to the jury on how it should handle the lesser charges.
    3.  The message that it sends to a jury that, if they can't all agree to convict him of murder, they should try to agree to convict him of at least something.

    I can't imagine the prosecutor would countenance the judge's idea.  They would have to know they'd be risking reversal.

    On the bigger issue:  Wow, it must be nice to be a celebrity defense attorney in Los Angeles County.  7-5!  Unbelievable.

    Actually (none / 0) (#4)
    by DA in LA on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 05:49:14 PM EST
    I think it's nicer to be a rich celebrity in LA.

    For us non-lawyers, (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 05:08:25 PM EST
    what does this mean?
    On the bigger issue:  Wow, it must be nice to be a celebrity defense attorney in Los Angeles County.  7-5!  Unbelievable.

    Without having checked yet.... (none / 0) (#3)
    by 1980Ford on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 05:45:57 PM EST
    but it's a given anyway....

    The CourtTV message boards are undoubtedly a hoot right about now. Almost all of them over there have him guilty.

    CourtTV does that to a person.

    Wow -- (none / 0) (#5)
    by janinsanfran on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 05:59:56 PM EST
    the in-court evidence must have been more exculpatory than the media reports. Or at least inconclusive. So what else is new?

    Looks like defense forensic expert (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 06:27:30 PM EST
    was persuasive to some of the jurors despite Spector's statement to the chauffeur.

    It would be (none / 0) (#7)
    by taylormattd on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 08:00:48 PM EST
    an invitation for reversal on appeal to instruct the jury on a lesser included offense after all of this deliberation on a more serious charge. Ridiculous. He's going to declare a mistrial.

    the judge also said (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 08:25:04 PM EST
    that if he does give them the lesser charge to consider, he'll reopen the case to allow the lawyers to give closings on it.

    That doesn't cure the defect, in fact, it could make it worse. He'd essentially be striking their original closing arguments.

    This judge needs to put his thinking cap back on.  A mistrial is the only answer.


    The NY Daily News is reporting the judge will not (none / 0) (#9)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 03:15:25 PM EST
    give the lesser charge to the jury, but has not yet decided on whether to declare a mistrial.

    The judge in the Phil Spector murder trial said Wednesday he would not order deadlocked jurors to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.

    "It would be inappropriate at this time to instruct a jury to a new offense," said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler.

    the stupid prosecutor (none / 0) (#10)
    by diogenes on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 10:23:00 PM EST
    The prosecutor should have filed several wrongful death charges all the way up the line to murder, rather than only go for second degree murder.