Nothing from Nothing
Robert Blake filed for bankruptcy today citing debts of $30 million for a wrongful death lawsuit and $1.6 million in back taxes. It appears to be a sad ending for a man who was worth about $13 million in 1998, according to a financial search Bonny Lee Bakley did on Robert Blake before she began stalking him. But its irony overshadows its sadness.
"The concept of Robert Blake doing everything he can to avoid paying was highly anticipated," Eric Dubin, civil attorney for Bakley’s estate, told the LA Times. "And we're ready for it." This statement comes from a man who said he was going to wipe the smile off Blake’s face. A man who advised the Bakley family to turn down $250,000 even though he sat through the entire criminal trial and watched an unethical prosecutor put on liars and charlatans to bolster a case that didn’t exist under scrutiny. A man who looked at Blake’s finances and knew the money just wasn’t there any more. He and the Bakley family now get $0.
It depends on your point of view as to who the biggest losers are. Certainly, the Bakley family kissed $250,000 goodbye. But it seems like almost everyone who stood against Blake wound up with big zero.
Take for instance, Det. Ron Ito, whose focus in this case seemed to be to get the most recognition he could, whether it be on camera or in print. But the only real camera time Det. Ito got was when he arrested Robert Blake. Most of that shot was of Ito’s backside. His face-side didn’t do much better at the preliminary hearing in 2003, when Thomas Mesereau court-marshalled him on national television regarding his assignment to chauffeur author Miles Corwin around the crime scene.
There is a rumor now that Ron Ito will get the recognition he deserves in the form of an investigation by the police commission for intimating witnesses and denying them requested legal counsel.
Bernard Parks didn’t get his police chief contract renewed despite the fact that he ordered detectives to arrest Robert Blake and Earle Caldwell on national TV, whether or not the LAPD had enough evidence. LA District Attorney Steve Cooley, who based his election campaign on tough celebrity justice, wound up eating sour grapes when Blake was acquitted and spit them out by calling the jurors stupid. Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels broke her near-perfect prosecution record (49 wins, 1 hung jury) trying the Blake case. She’s not a virgin any more.
The stuntmen, Gary McLarty and Duffy Hambleton, whose meth-addled brains have seen aliens and horned desert beasts, will now spend the rest of their lives seeing policemen under their beds.
Frank Minucci apparently was auditioning for a part on “The Sopranos” when, in his minister’s collar, he told the jury he made lewd phone calls to a woman in New York. Brother Frank is still awaiting a call from the network.
The civil jurors who behaved as if they’d be hailed as heros, weren’t. Some of them are probably still holding out for their book deals. They didn’t realized that the story was, as Robert Blake once put it, “going from Saddam Heussein to Seabiscut,” not the OJ trial rerun. The media backed off after the civil jurors answered “we don’t know” to the question of whether they thought Blake killed his wife. Even Nancy Grace, who hated Blake and went out of her way to spew inaccurate facts about the case, cancelled a two-hour post-verdict show. If Blake wasn’t talking, there was no show.
When it comes to money, however, the LA taxpayers were taken to the cleaners by the LAPD and the District Attorney’s office. It has never been reported what the “most extensive investigation in LAPD history” cost Los Angeles. But if it cost Blake $13 million, you can bet the LA taxpayers made a matching contribution.
During civil jury selection, many prospective jurors expressed the opinion that the Bakley family was out for the money and that it was wrong to put Blake through another trial. “If he was a poor man I don’t think they’d be going after his underwear,” remarked one man.
Another person said of the proceedings, “It’s sort of like how his wife tried to get in with him and get his money.”
The civil trial judge, David Schacter, has yet to sign off on the verdict. Blake’s attorney, Peter Ezzell, has filed an opposition which the judge will consider on February 22. Schacter has an option to sign off on the $30 million judgment, reduce that amount, or dimiss the case altogether. If he dismisses the case, the Bakley family will have to retry. If the amount stands or is reduced, Blake has the option to appeal. A second go-round would only net the Bakley family Blake’s underwear. An appeal would cost Blake money he no longer has. So it’s likely there will be no more courtrooms for Blake.
I once wrote that this case was like a joint effort between Raymond Chandler and William Faulkner. Chandler ends this novel in a civil courtroom, exposing corruption by high-ranking officials. Faulkner ends his part in the LA Times. The end. The rest, as they say in Hollywood, is just the sequel.
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