Robert Blake's murder trial has been thrown into chaos this week (ends6FEB04) - after his defence attorney THOMAS MESEREAU quit unexpectedly.

Judge DARLENE SCHEMPP was forced to release Mesereau from his duties after discovering he and the former BARETTA star - who is accused of murdering wife BONNIE LEE BAKELY in 2001 - had irreconcilable differences between them.

She told LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT: "I had a very lengthy discussion with Tom Mesereau and Robert Blake. There are irreconcilable differences between Mr Blake and Mr Mesereau and I have agreed to release Mr Mesereau."

Mesereau is the third defence attorney to leave Blake's case - he replaced HARLAND BRAUN who also found working with Blake to be impossible.

And the impact of his departure on the trial is certain to be profound. It is expected that the case will be halted for several weeks while his replacement tries to digest the huge amount of paperwork pertaining to the trial.

And prosecutor Deputy District Attorney SHELLY SAMUELS was keen to discover how much time will be given to the new addition to Blake's legal team.

Judge Schempp promised: "I will keep someone on the shortest leash I possibly can."

Blake must return to the courthouse on 23 February (04) to present his new attorney to the Judge. Mesereau has refused to give a detailed account of the problems between him and Mr Blake.

06/02/2004 09:05