Actor Robert Blake's former lawyer has been fined $18,950 (GBP10,257) for disrupting a deposition last year (03), in which he called the proceeding a "clown show".

LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT Judge DAVID M SCHACTER called the conduct by attorney THOMAS MESEREAU JR - now an attorney for MICHAEL JACKSON - "unprofessional".

Schacter said, "Mr Mesereau's conduct may be acceptable for a theatrical production of the law but not for professional conduct of a deposition."

Former BARETTA star Blake, 70, is accused of killing his wife, BONNY LEE BAKLEY, in 2001. She was found shot to death in their car outside a Los Angeles restaurant where they had dined.

On 15 January 2003, during a deposition in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Blake by Bakley's family, Mesereau instructed Blake to not answer questions. At one point he called the proceeding a "clown show".

On Friday (11JUN04), Schacter awarded various fees to attorney ERIC DUBIN, who represents Bakley's family and sought to recover expenses from the hearing.

Dubin, who had sought $28,250 (GBP15,690), says Bakley's family plans to donate the money to several organisations for victims.

Mesereau acknowledged he behaved badly but a colleague says he will appeal the decision and probably file a motion seeking sanctions against Dubin, who he claims called him names during the hearing.

Mesereau stepped down as Blake's lawyer in February (04) because of "irreconcilable differences" with his high-profile client. He has since been replaced by M GERALD SCHWARTZBACH.

The civil lawsuit will begin after Blake's criminal trial, which is scheduled for September (04).

13/06/2004 21:16