Fields promptly denied that and said he'd testify if called. The U.S. attorney's office then issued a statement explaining the confusion this way: Fields' personal lawyer, John Keker, had advised that Fields would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights but then the counsel for Fields' law firm said it wasn't so. And Keker was, mysteriously, out as Fields' lawyer.
What does it mean? We consulted former prosecutor Laurie Levinson, who's not following the trial day-to-day but knows how these things work. She says it's possible that Keker reflexively wanted Fields to take the Fifth, as any criminal-defense attorney might, and then found out that his client disagreed with that plan. Or it's possible that Fields knew of the plan but didn't like the reaction after it was made public. Or perhaps his firm didn't like the reaction. It could be that Keker thought his client should take the Fifth and wasn't comfortable with hanging around if that didn't happen.
Keker's reputation is so good, she says, that most people would give him the benefit of any doubt in any rift with Fields. Of course, Keker can't talk about what happened because it's privileged.
As to whether the prosecutors will call Fields, she was doubtful. Fields is not the prosecution's friend in this matter, she says, and calling him would represent unknown and unnecessary risk. Just another disappointment in what was once supposed to be the trial of all Hollywood trials. (link)
March 21, 2008
Sordid details: As expected, Paramount chief Brad Grey's testimony at the Pellicano trial was not too sexy. Garry Shandling may have gotten people's hopes up with his complaints about Grey's behavior as his manager, but no one in this case has a stake in pursuing that angle. The question was whether Grey knew of Pellicano's alleged wrongdoing, and Grey, naturally, said he did not.
So it's hardly surprising that Shandling—a professional, after all—turned out to be more entertaining than Grey. For those looking for a big takedown of Hollywood power, it's long been clear that the trial seems unlikely to pay off. But the fact that Pellicano's big-name clients appear to have skated doesn't mean that the allegations in this case aren't sensational. They could hardly be more so.
If the government's got its facts right (and Pellicano, acting as his own counsel, isn't mounting a serious defense so far), then the worst is true: Justice in this country can be bought pretty easily, if not cheaply.
The case has elicited testimony that Pellicano convinced cops and phone company employees to snoop through data that should have had vigilant protection. He perverted the system, and not just to benefit rich clients who wanted to shake off unwanted spouses or thwart opponents in business deals. He is accused of having successfully intimidated a number of alleged rape victims to prevent their testifying against a client. Got that? It would mean that he helped an alleged serial rapist get off the hook.
And he got away with it all for years.