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    Robert Blake Courts an Appeal

    Not that Robert Blake was going to be whipping out the checkbook anytime soon, but his legal camp is still trying to keep the vault sealed permanently.

    Nearly a year after losing his bid for a new trial and months after announcing his intent to appeal, Robert Blake has actually appealed the $30 million wrongful-death verdict leveled against him in November 2005. 

    The Baretta star was acquitted of murder earlier that year, but a civil jury found him liable for the death of wife Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, who was shot in 2001 while sitting in the couple's car outside of a Studio City, California, restaurant. 

    In the 55-page appeal, filed Wednesday in California's 2nd District Court of Appeals, attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach alleges that the jury was was trying to set an example as a warning to other celebrities and was biased against his client from the beginning.

    "In a case featuring no forensic evidence or confession linking appellant Robert Blake to the murder of decdent Bonny Lee Bakley, nor any testimony by an eyewitness to the killing, a jury found him liable for her death and imposed a gargantuan award of $30 million," the appeal says.  

    According to affidavits collected from three jurors after the trial, one juror cited the Bible as a basis for ruling against Blake, while another person concealed the fact that her daughter was currently serving a life sentence related to a murder case. 

    The appeal also claims that a hearing-impaired juror had admitted to missing most of the testimony and was goaded into agreeing with the others, who cautioned him that he would cause a mistrial if he dissented.  

    The jury ruled 10-2 against Blake. 

    "Jurors discussed setting the damaged figure high enough to 'send a message' that celebrities and rich people cannot get away with murder…the fact that O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson had escaped punishment," Schwartzbach stated.  

    Like Blake, Simpson was found not guilty of murder in but in 1997 was slapped with a $33.5 million wrongful-death verdict, to be paid to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, both of which claim to have seen nary a dime of that money. A Los Angeles court recently ordered Simpson to turn over any residuals from his past TV and movie appearances to the Goldmans as a means of helping the family collect on the civil court's verdict. 

    And like Simpson, Blake has maintained that his criminal trial cleaned him out (although Simpson had a $4 million NFL pension that can't be touched by the courts to fall back on). The Emmy winner declared bankruptcy in February 2006, several months after the $30 million judgment was read, and has said that he's making ends meet with his Screen Actors Guild pension and Social Security. 

    A judge rejected the bankruptcy filing in April, however, so as far as the courts are concerned, Blake still has to pay up.  

    According to the actor's appeal, jurors were out to get Blake from the start and planned to hand out such a large sum that the 73-year-old actor would be forced to give up custody of his and Bakley's young daughter, Rosie, to Bakley's family. 

    Rosie has since been adopted by Blake's adult daughter and son-in-law. 

    Bakley family attorney Eric Dubin called the appeal "just another way to delay paying." 

    Meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Police Department has opened an internal investigation after receiving a misconduct complaint about the lead investigator on the Bakley case. The complaint against Detective Ron Ito alleges that the high-profile nature of the case led police to assume Blake was guilty and, therefore, the case remained closed even after his acquittal.

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