At 8:30 a.m. in the Roybal federal Building tomorrow, jury selection begins for Hollywood superlawyer Terry Christensen and ex-private investigator Anthony Pellicano. Prosecutors allege Christensen paid Pellicano $100,000 to illegally wiretap the ex-wife of long-time client Kirk Kerkorian during a 2002 child support dispute to gain a tactical advantage in the litigation. There have been conversations between Pellicano and Christensen that have come to light about the alleged spying in the case involving billionaire investor Kerkorian, who owned MGM/United Artists. Don’t expect to hear talk about the trial: Hollywood has Pelicano fatigue.
There was a failed attempt to remove Christensen’s law partner Patty Glaser, well known in showbiz circles, as his defense attorney on grounds she had a conflict that should disqualify her. Prosecutors even subpoenaed Glaser as a potential witness. And Glaser doesn’t even practice criminal law. But this week U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer let it go. According to news reports, the judge said she’d received a declaration from Christensen in which he waived any conflicts from Glaser’s participation in litigation involving the charges against him. The judge also took an oral waiver from Christensen, after a federal prosecutor said he wanted a guarantee that Christensen would not use Glaser’s representation as grounds for an appeal or any other legal challenge.
Christensen is the managing partner of Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro and faces one count of conspiracy and one count of wiretapping. Once again, Pellicano will act as his own lawyer even though at the last trial in May he was found guilty of 76 counts. Underscoring what a celebrated attorney Christensen is, Judge Fischer showed him unusual deference. “I believe you’ve been practicing law longer than I have,” she said to him at one point. That’s why many in the Hollywood legal community are still shocked and dismayed that Christensen was drawn into the Pellicano scandal.