March 25th, 2009
11:26 AM ET

John Q Public covers the Spector trial

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/03/24/california.spector.trial/art.phil.spector.gi.jpg caption="Phil Spector's retrial in the 2003 slaying of actress Lana Clarkson is winding down this week."]

Linda Hall
CNN Senior Producer

OK–so it's been a while since I have covered a trial from start to finish–but I was still surprised at the amount of public interest the closing arguments of the attorneys in the murder trial case against Phil Spector has garnered. Spector is accused of murdering B movie actress Lana Clarkson in his home 6 years ago-the defense contends it was suicide.

Sure, Spector made himself famous by creating a new "wall of sound" in popular music, ranging from some of Motown's biggest hits to The Beatles' last released album, "Let it Be."

But courthouse officials told me the courtroom had remained "largely empty" during the bulk of the trial and it has only been the last couple of days that John Q Public, aka citizen journalists, aka bloggers, had to line up and vie for a "pass" to get one of the coveted seats.

It's fascinating that most of them bring notebooks or even single sheets of paper and appear to diligently take notes.

Betsy Ross, yes, that's her real name, and no she isn't related to the Betsy Ross who reportedly sewed the first American Flag, says she has followed true crime since she was 17 and read "Helter Skelter," the book about the Charles Manson murders.

Ross told me this is the third trial she has "covered" from beginning to end. She said when she blogged the first Spector murder trial, she clearly had "a pro-prosecution bias" but in this second trial, she says she has "tried to report unbiasedly (sic), but it's hard." She also talked openly about her plans for getting the verdict news out first! (We in the mainstream media, aka hopelessly competitive, would never share our secret game plans that openly ).

Usually in big murder trials, space is so limited that the media gets a spillover room. No need for that in this trial, the handful of mainstream media in attendance–some of them there for the first time this case–sat in the back row where they were allowed to work off their computers and blackberries and at least one "tweeted" freely.

It occurs to me that having so much public interest and participation is actually good for our justice system. The more people can see how it works, and the more people share that experience with others, the better, right? What do you think?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Nicole

    I don't think he's going to walk this time. The jury doesn't have Phil's engineer neighbor as the jury foreman to ignore all the evidence and push for acquittal.

    Betsy Ross aka "Sprocket" has done an outstanding job covering this trial – both Spector trials, in fact. I'm glad to see her mentioned in this article.

    BTW, people in the music business in L.A. knew for decades about Phil's craziness with guns. That he finally killed someone came as no surprise to me.

    March 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Michael "C" Lorton, VA

    This guy is going to "walk"---just like OJ.

    March 25, 2009 at 11:45 am |