Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Phil Spector: The 'Mad Genius' of Rock'n'Roll

'A Target With the Judge'

On the final day of testimony, some five months after the trial began, lead defense counsel, Bruce Cutler, asked the judge's permission to withdraw from the case. Though nominally the defense team's lead counsel, Cutler had been absent for days at a time to work on an upcoming reality television show. It had also been rumored that he had been ostracized from the rest of the defense team and that they often planned strategy without him.

Phil Spector
Phil Spector

Before leaving the courtroom for the last time, Cutler bid Spector goodbye with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, which is how he customarily greeted his client each morning in court. Later, outside the courthouse, Cutler told reporters, "Phil wants to fight this case differently than I want to fight it."

Spector, who over the years had hired and fired several top-notch defense attorneys on this case, was said to be unhappy with Cutler's aggressive New York style and felt that the tactics Cutler had used to earn acquittals for clients such as notorious mob boss John Gotti would not work for in a California courtroom.

"I didn't think it was in my best interest," Specter said during the lunch recess, referring to keeping Cutler on his defense team. As quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Spector added, "I didn't think he had the full credibility with the jury."

"He was also a target with the judge," Spector said.

Judge Fidler had reprimanded Cutler harshly earlier in the trial for his loud and abrasive cross-examination of defense witness Diane Ogden, Spector's former personal assistant who claimed that he held her at gunpoint in his home after a party in 1989.

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