Looks like Phil Spector found his potential lead defense attorney 400 miles north of his Alhambra mansion. Veteran San Francisco attorney Doron Weinberg appeared in LA Superior Court this morning to report to Judge Larry Fidler that he’s in “serious negotiations” with Spector.
Weinberg told Legal Pad after flying back from LA that he’s been talking with Spector for the last couple of weeks. Fellow San Francisco defense attorney Dennis Riordan — the latest addition to the legendary music producer’s ever-changing legal team — referred Spector to Weinberg. (Riordan is still on the team with San Diego attorney Christopher Plourd).
Typically, retrials are seen as somewhat of a boon for the prosecution, since they give prosecutors a second chance to strengthen their weaknesses, after the defense has laid out its cards. Weinberg says he’s not sure if that’s the case here, but added, “that is certainly a very common experience.”
But if Weinberg can do for Spector what he did last year for Santa Clara County murder defendant Roy Garcia, L.A. prosecutors have a tough case ahead.
Garcia was convicted in 2000 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. After the conviction was reversed on appeal by the California Supreme Court, prosecutors went for a new trial. Weinberg got Garcia acquitted the second time around.
Weinberg is also busy appealing the 2004 federal money laundering conviction of another client, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko.
According to the Weinberg & Wilder Web site, the firm’s 63-year-old founding partner has represented thousands of clients since 1972, lectured on criminal law and ethics issues and has been certified as an expert in criminal defense and legal ethics.
So you might wonder what a millionaire record producer facing murder charges is doing quibbling over the cost of much-needed, high-quality legal representation. Maybe it's just that he's a rebel. Certainly, he lost his lovin' feeling for his last attorney, Bruce Cutler, who left mid-trial, and the other three, who departed after the mistrial.
According to Weinberg — who won’t reveal his price tag — there’s more than money on the table.
“It’s not just a question of finance,” he said. “It‘s about what kind of a team we need, what needs to be done anew, what can be preserved from what was done before.”
— Millie Lapidario