Judge Plans Contempt Proceedings Against Ex-Spector Attorney

The judge in Phil Spector's murder trial said contempt proceedings would go forward Monday against a former defense attorney who has said she will not testify to the jury that she saw a defense forensic expert pick up possible evidence at the scene of actress Lana Clarkson's death that has never been provided to the prosecution.

Such testimony could be used by the prosecution to attack the credibility of the forensic expert if he testifies.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said a hearing in chambers Monday morning failed to resolve the issue, which has percolated in hearings outside the jury's presence for more than a month.

Fidler told the courtroom that the defense offered a stipulation but it was rejected by the prosecution. The stipulation was not described, but it would typically be a statement read to the jury.

"Unless something changes between now and 1:30 (p.m.), the contempt proceeding will proceed," Fidler said.

Fidler told attorney Sara Caplan last week that he planned to hold a hearing without the jury present to formally hear her refusal to testify, find her in contempt, order her jailed to coerce her testimony, but immediately stay the order so it could be appealed.

Caplan, her attorney and Spector's current defense team have claimed attorney-client privilege but the judge has said precedent shows that the privelege does not apply on issues of destruction of evidence.

Clarkson was shot through the mouth in the foyer of Spector's home on the early morning of Feb. 3, 2003. Spector's defense contends she shot herself.

Caplan was among members of Spector's original defense team who examined the scene the next day.

In a special hearing on May 3 without the jury present, Caplan took the stand to deny a claim by a law clerk that she picked up an object at the scene.

She said she would never touch anything at the scene of an alleged crime, but in a surprise, she said she pointed out a small white object about the size of a fingernail to famed criminalist Henry Lee and he picked it up and put it in a vial.

Caplan said she did not know what the object was or what happened to it after Lee put it in the vial.

Lee subsequently testified that he did not pick up such an item, but on May 23 the judge made a formal finding that he did.

"Dr. Lee did recover an item," the judge ruled at the time. "It is flat, white, with rough edges. I cannot say if it is a fingernail. It has never been presented to the prosecution."

Clarkson, 40, was best known for her role in the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen." Spector, 67, was a leading music producer in the 1960s and '70s, rising to fame with a revolutionary recording technique known as the "Wall of Sound."