Phil Spector won’t appear in person at civil trial

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Prison officials won’t allow music producer and convicted murderer Phil Spector to attend a civil trial in which he is trying to recoup $1 million paid to celebrity attorney Robert Shapiro, a lawyer told a judge on Friday.

Spector will still be a star witness in the case but will instead appear via a videotaped deposition.

His attorney Michael Dempsey said he expects the footage to be shown near the conclusion of Spector’s civil case claiming breach of contract against Shapiro.

Dempsey said at a pretrial hearing that he was advised by prison officials that his client would not be moved for the trial scheduled to begin March 7.

Spector was convicted of the second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson and is serving a sentence of 19 years to life at Corcoran State Prison.

He has battled Shapiro for years, contending the lawyer took advantage of him after he was arrested in 2003. Shapiro represented Spector for a year, securing his release on bail.

Shapiro’s attorneys deny any wrongdoing and say the producer knew he was paying to have exclusive rights to the lawyer who also helped defend O.J. Simpson at his murder trial.

Lawyer Joel Klevens, who represents Shapiro, argued that it was essential to have Spector in court to cross-examine him.

The producer’s deposition is several years old and will have to be edited to exclude issues that won’t be presented to the jury.

Superior Court Judge Malcolm said he had a similar problem when handling a case involving rapper Dr. Dre and producer Suge Knight, who was jailed at the time.

“It was impossible,” Mackey said about efforts to have Knight attend the proceedings.

The trial will include testimony by other high-profile attorneys about the propriety of the agreement between Spector and Shapiro.

Among those expected to testify is Leslie Abramson, who also defended Spector before resigning.

Spector is known for his work with musicians such as The Beatles, The Righteous Brothers and The Ronettes.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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