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Phil Spector, attorney Robert Shapiro settle dispute

March 4, 2011 |  3:54 pm

There will be no courtroom showdown between imprisoned music producer Phil Spector and Robert Shapiro, the noted criminal lawyer he first tapped to defend him from murder charges.

Spector settled a lawsuit demanding that Shapiro return a $1-million retainer fee Thursday, just three days before the matter was to go to trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Lawyers said they could reveal nothing about the terms of the agreement, which came during a last-ditch settlement conference with Judge Peter Lichtman. 

"I can only tell you that the settlement as is confidential as they come," said Michael Dempsey, a lawyer for Spector.

The 70-year-old pop music legend is serving a sentence of 19 years to life for the 2003 murder of Lana Clarkson at his Alhambra mansion.

Spector hired Shapiro, famous for his defense of O.J. Simpson, within days of his arrest, but fired him less than a year later because, according to the suit, the lawyer wasn’t spending enough time on his case.

For the settlement negotiations, Spector gave another high-profile defense attorney, Leslie Abramson, power of attorney to approve a deal. She was one of a string of lawyers Spector ran through before his 2009 conviction. Abramson said she is acting as Spector’s "general counsel" as he pursues appeals.

"We are very good friends now," she said.


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-- Harriet Ryan

Photos: Phil Spector, left, and Robert Shapiro. Credit: Los Angeles Times