Spector Judge Rejects Defense Motion to Disqualify Him From Retrial

The judge who presided over Phil Spector's first murder trial has rejected a defense motion to disqualify him from the retrial because of alleged prejudice against the legendary rock music producer.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler signed a declaration that he was not biased or prejudiced against any party in the case, according to court papers released Tuesday.

Spector's first trial ended in a jury deadlock last September. Spector, famed for his "Wall of Sound" recording technique, is accused of killing actress Lana Clarkson at his Alhambra mansion on Feb. 3, 2003.

In the statement the judge signed March 19, Fidler also said the motion filed by Spector attorney Doron Weinberg was untimely and any protests of the judge's actions should have been filed when they occurred during the trial.

Weinberg said he was preparing to file a writ with the state court of appeals seeking a hearing before a neutral judge.

Weinberg filed a 44-page motion last week listing numerous alleged acts of bias by the judge. They included: the imposition of a gag order limited to Spector's wife and a potential defense witness as well as his decision to withdraw a jury instruction and craft a new one after jurors first announced they were deadlocked.

The defense alleged that Fidler wanted to counter public perceptions that celebrities were given special treatment and could not be convicted in California courts.

Clarkson, 40, was working as a hostess at the House of Blues when she met Spector and went home with him. The actress best known for her role in "Barbarian Queen" died of a gunshot fired inside her mouth while she was seated in a foyer of Spector's mansion.

The prosecution claimed Spector, 68, shot her and that had a history of threatening women with guns; the defense argued Clarkson shot herself, either accidentally or by suicide.

No date has been set for the retrial and a hearing on that issue was scheduled for Friday.