The murder trial of music producer Phil Spector will be televised, a judge ordered today (Feb. 16), saying it is time for the justice system to get beyond the O.J. Simpson trial.
“We have to get by that case,” said California Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler. “There’s going to come a time that it will be commonplace to televise trials. If it had not been for Simpson, we’d be there now.”
The judge ruled on requests by electronic news media to allow gavel-to-gavel coverage. Fidler said only jury selection will not be televised.
Attorneys for Spector opposed cameras in the court, saying it would cause witnesses to act differently and might make jurors self-conscious in their role.
But Fidler said he believed he could control the situation, and if there was any negative fallout, “I can pull the plug at any time.”
“Public scrutiny is a good thing,” said the judge, adding that a televised trial would dispel the belief that celebrities are treated differently in court. “The public gets to see that we try cases one way and that’s it,” he said.
Spector is accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson four years ago at his suburban Alhambra mansion. The 67-year-old record producer has pleaded not guilty and has been free on $1 million bail. Jury selection is scheduled to begin March 19.
The televised trial at which Simpson was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman became a national phenomenon. Fidler said that Simpson’s judge, Lance Ito, is a close friend and he believes that Ito was wrongly blamed for the circus-like atmosphere of that trial.
“Judge Ito did not expect to turn on ‘The Tonight Show’ and see the Dancing Itos,” Fidler said, referring to a satire that was repeated many times during the trial. “I’m not too concerned we’re going to be seeing the Flying Fidlers,” he added. “It’s not that kind of a case.
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