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Kendall Coffey: Blake attorney may not be able to resign

CNN legal analyst Kendall Coffey
CNN legal analyst Kendall Coffey

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(CNN) -- Two high-profile legal cases from Hollywood are currently receiving attention from the media. The attorney for Robert Blake -- charged in the slaying of his wife -- resigned from the case after the actor agreed to a TV interview. Meanwhile, the shoplifting trial of actress Winona Ryder began this week. Kendall Coffey, CNN legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney, spoke with CNN anchor Carol Costello Tuesday about the two cases.

CAROL COSTELLO: Let's start with the Robert Blake mess. He's agreed to an interview with Diane Sawyer, I think. His lawyer is very angry about that, and has threatened -- in fact, he did quit. Can he, though?

KENDALL COFFEY: Well, it's the classic tension in a high-profile case between a client, a public figure who's wanting to speak out to protect a public image and the defense lawyer concerned that what you say on TV can and will be used against you. Especially in a murder case any defense lawyer would share the frustration of Blake's lawyer. But at this stage ...

COSTELLO: But I have to say, Kendall, if I'm innocent, I'd want to speak out and tell the world that I had nothing to do with this murder.

COFFEY: Of course you do, but you need to do what's best for the case. Have your press conferences, do your talk shows after the acquittal.

The problem, Carol, is that when you go on tape, that's evidence that the prosecution can use directly. They may take your statements out of context. They may find inconsistencies with what you said elsewhere.

The other problem is demeanor. Would Blake come across on this TV interview as an angry guy who says he's a victim of an unfair prosecution, or would he be a grief-stricken husband? And frankly, the jurors don't like that angry guy stuff. And so, there are all kinds of pitfalls and really no gain to be made on going on camera.

COSTELLO: Will the judge allow Mr. Braun to quit?

COFFEY: Good question. At this stage of the proceedings, it is not up to the lawyer to simply say, I'm out of here. The judge has got to make that decision, and one of the people who can weigh in on it is Robert Blake. Does he think this is an irreconcilable difference, or having made a substantial investment in this representation, might he object to the attempted withdrawal?

COSTELLO: Let's turn our attention to the Winona Ryder case. Ryder is on trial now for shoplifting. And there's a big-time movie producer on the jury?

COFFEY: Carol, only in Beverly Hills could you have a world- famous actress on trial for shoplifting with one of her former bosses on the jury deciding the case.

But the fact, Carol, that a prospective juror may know a defendant or another participant doesn't automatically disqualify them. And as long as neither side uses its peremptory challenges -- these are the automatic strikes -- to remove the juror, and if that potential juror says that they can be fair and impartial -- these are usually the magic words -- then a judge normally will not remove the jurors.

So, Winona Ryder will truly be getting a trial by a jury of her peers.



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