Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spector sues his ex-attorney for $1-million refund
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

8:57 AM PST, December 20, 2007

Music producer Phil Spector, who has cycled through defense attorneys since he was accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra mansion in 2003, is trying for the second time to get a refund of the $1 million he paid his first attorney.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Spector alleges that attorney Robert L. Shapiro "took unfair and unscrupulous advantage of his friendship and position of trust with Mr. Spector, and decided to use Mr. Spector's arrest as an opportunity to make a financial windfall and garner publicity for himself."

The suit, filed by Spector's new attorney, Michael D. Dempsey, says Shapiro and his law firms, also named as defendants, tricked Spector into paying a $1-million nonrefundable deposit just after he was released from jail in February 2003. Spector maintains Shapiro knew he was under tremendous stress at the time and had been unable to take medication prescribed to treat an unspecified "mental condition."

Spector is also contesting a later agreement he made to pay Shapiro an additional $500,000, alleging that Shapiro "did not devote significant time or energy to the case."

Spector made similar allegations in a 2004 lawsuit that he dropped the following year.

Shapiro and representatives from his Los Angeles law firms, Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro and the Law Offices of Robert L. Shapiro, did not return calls this morning. At the time of the first lawsuit, Shapiro denied Spector's claims, saying he did his best to represent Spector and deserved the retainer.

In September, after a four-month trial, jurors deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of convicting Spector of second-degree murder. Prosecutors had argued that the 67-year-old rock music pioneer shot Clarkson when she tried to leave his home. Defense lawyers said the actress, 40, shot herself. Spector recently hired a new legal team, and his retrial was delayed for at least five months.