Prosecutors complain Robert Blake lawyer has hired their witness

Thursday, May 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Robert Blake's lawyer should be prohibited from hiring a private investigator who is scheduled to testify against the actor during his murder trial, prosecutors argued.

The employment of William C. Jordan has a ``glaring potential for corruption,'' prosecutors said in papers filed Wednesday in Superior Court.

Blake, 68, is charged with the murder of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, on May 4, 2001, two counts of soliciting her murder, conspiracy and the special circumstance of lying in wait.

According to a police affidavit, Blake hired Jordan in September 2000, in anticipation of child custody proceedings. On Friday, he joined the defense team, the document said.

According to phone records included in the court filings, Blake spoke with Jordan frequently up to the time of Bakley's murder.

As Blake's employee, the motion said, Jordan would feel inhibited in telling police anything he has not said already.

``The defense team's financial arrangements with witnesses and parties have the glaring potential for corruption,'' the motion said.

``Enough is enough,'' prosecutors wrote. ``In order to protect the people's right to a fair trial and maintain the public's faith in a judicial system that should operate the same way for every defendant, no mater how wealthy, this court must take aggressive steps to keep defendant Blake and his attorney from interfering with the people's witnesses.''

Attorney Harland Braun acknowledged he hired Jordan but said he sees no problem because Jordan worked for Blake long before the police were involved in the case.

``I find it astounding,'' Braun said of the motion. ``As far as I'm concerned, the district attorney doesn't tell us who we're going to hire as lawyers or investigators. They should run their case and we'll run ours.''

He said Jordan checked with his lawyer and with police before agreeing to work for Braun. ``They weren't happy, but there's nothing they can do about it,'' Braun said.

Prosecutors claim Jordan's connection to Blake compounds an existing problem.

Blake is paying the legal bills, including $1 million bail, for bodyguard and co-defendant Earle Caldwell, prosecutors pointed out in paperwork filed earlier.

During a hearing scheduled Monday, prosecutors want Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash to rule that Arna Zlotnick, Caldwell's attorney, has a conflict-of-interest for several reasons, including the fact she's being paid by Blake.

The star of the 1970s television show ``Baretta'' married Bakley on Nov. 18, 2000, five months after she gave birth to their daughter. Bakley was shot as she sat in Blake's car near a restaurant where they had just eaten.