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Blake appeals US$30 mln award to wife's survivors
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Robert Blake's attorney claims jurors who found the actor liable for damages in his wife's death after his acquittal of murder were out to get him before the civil trial began.

In an appeal filed Tuesday, M. Gerald Schwartzbach told a three-judge panel of California's 2nd District Court of Appeal that the jurors, who ordered Blake to pay the survivors of Bonny Lee Bakley US$30 million, were incompetent, guilty of misconduct and issued an award "so grossly excessive that it shocks the conscience."

Bakley family lawyer Eric Dubin responded that although the jury might have committed some minor errors, its verdict should stand.

"Either you're going to trust the system or you're not. These jurors were good people. They worked hard," he said, adding that minor errors can occur in any trial.

The panel didn't indicate when it might issue a ruling. Blake, 74, was not in court.

Bakley was sitting in Blake's car in May 2001 when she was shot outside a restaurant where the two had just eaten dinner. The actor told police he left her alone briefly when he returned to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection and had accidentally left behind.

A criminal court jury acquitted Blake of murder in 2005, but Bakley's survivors had already filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, and that proceeded to trial with a different legal team. In November 2005, Blake was found liable for his 44-year-old wife's death and ordered the 30 million dollar award.

(Agencies via Xinhua January 17, 2008)

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