June 15, 2007 2:15

Phil Spector trial: Day 23

Producer's former lawyer could be held in contempt

Phil Spector trial: Day 23
The judge in the Phil Spector murder trial ruled today (June 14) that Sara Caplan, the producer's former lawyer, could be held in contempt of court if she refuses to testify about whether she saw a defence expert mishandle potential evidence.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler apparently felt remorse about his decision, but said he had no choice but to rule the way he did.

"I see no reason why Miss Caplan should not testify. There is no other person who can testify to what she saw," he said.

Fidler said it was the first time in his 25 years on the bench that he had to threaten an attorney with contempt.

"I admire her for taking the stance she is taking; I don't agree with it," he said, adding "nobody has any personal animus against Miss Caplan."

Caplan was on the defence team that searched Spector's Los Angeles mansion the day after actress Lana Clarkson was found shot in the mouth on February 3, 2003.

In an evidentiary hearing, Caplan testified that she saw forensic scientist, Henry Lee, pick up small white object that may have been one of Clarkson's acrylic fingernails.

The prosecution maintains that this information could support their case. However, Caplan has refused to take the stand in open court because it may violate attorney-client privilege.

Caplan could face criminal penalties as a result of the ruling, but she has until June 22 to appeal the decision to a higher court, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Spector is accused of murdering Clarkson, but the defence contends she shot herself.

--By our Los Angeles staff.
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