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The Phil Spector Trial: We Watch Court TV So You Don't Have To (08/27)

August 27, 2007 3:47 PM ET

WHAT HAPPENED TODAY? We interrupt our usual next-day summaries of the Phil Spector trial to relay breaking news: Bruce Cutler, who started off as Spector's lead lawyer, has left the defense team because of a "difference of opinion concerning the summations of the trial." Cutler was noticeably absent for weeks on end while filming a television show (for Court TV, ironically enough). Upon returning, it was assumed that Cutler, who by no means is the forensic expert a trial like this requires, would solely handle the closing arguments for Team Spector. However, Cutler's brusque, intimidating method of questioning witnesses rubbed both judge and jury the wrong way, which likely fueled the defense team's reluctance to allow Cutler to close out the trial. With Cutler out of the closing-argument equation, he felt like he could no longer effectively represent Spector, and thus asked to be relieved of his duty. Spector groggily told Judge Filder he allows Cutler to leave the defense team, at which point Fidler granted the motion. The remaining members of Spector's all-star squad looked solemn as their former leader made his way out of the courtroom.

IS THIS GOOD OR BAD FOR SPECTOR? Both. Cutler made few friends during his time at the trial. He was reprimanded numerous times by the judge for yelling at witnesses, trying to scare them into giving him an answer he wanted. Cutler, who gained notoriety for representing John Gotti, was too much of a pushy New York lawyer to be successful in this laid-back California courthouse. His exit, however, raises the suspicion that there may be an impending mutiny within the defense team, and that they might have no clear method of strategy moving into the final stages of the trial.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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