Blake to Appeal Wrongful-Death Verdict
Monday, May 8, 2006; 5:45 PM
LOS ANGELES -- Robert Blake's lawyer gave notice Monday that he will appeal the wrongful-death verdict by a civil jury that awarded $30 million to the family of the actor's slain wife.
Attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach, who won Blake's acquittal in criminal court on a charge of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, filed paperwork with the California District Court of Appeals and said he will allege juror misconduct and other issues in seeking a new trial.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge turned down without explanation last month Blake's request for a new trial.
The actor's motion was based on declarations by three jurors who said that their fellow panelists discussed the case and made up their minds before testimony was completed.
The jurors also said that one panelist did not disclose that her daughter was in prison on a murder conviction after a high-profile trial, and another juror used the Bible during deliberations.
Schwartzbach presented documents in which jurors said they discussed the Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson cases during deliberations and talked of setting damages at a level that would "send a message to the world."
The attorney said his appeal will be based on those factors and "other issues that become apparent once I've read the transcript of the trial."
Schwartzbach did not represent Blake, the star of the old "Baretta" TV series, during the civil trial.
"There's no question in my mind that Robert was denied a fair trial because of egregious juror misconduct and rulings by the trial judge," Schwartzbach said in a phone interview. "I believe that once the court of appeals has the opportunity to look at the record, the judgment will be set aside."
Eric Dubin, an attorney for Bakley's family, earlier said he had statements from five jurors denying the claims. He did not immediately return a phone message Monday.
Bakley was shot to death in 2001 while sitting in Blake's car outside a restaurant where the couple had dined. Blake said he left her alone while he went back into the restaurant to retrieve a gun he had left behind. He said he carried the gun for his own protection.
Blake recently filed for bankruptcy, saying that his assets were depleted by the legal cases and that he does not have money to pay back income taxes or other debts. Defense lawyers have said it is unlikely Bakley's family will ever collect the $30 million judgment.