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Clerk for Judge in Basinger 'Helena' Case Investigated : Courts: A loan request made of the actress and Alec Baldwin puts Syndy Scaife-Richard under review. The clerk offers no comment.

January 12, 1994|JUDY BRENNAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A court clerk is under review by the Los Angeles Superior Court for possible misconduct in the case of last winter's Kim Basinger "Boxing Helena" trial, a court spokeswoman said.

According to the spokesperson, the review of Syndy Scaife-Richard was prompted by a Jan. 2 Times story that revealed that she had asked Basinger for help in getting a $125,000 loan from Basinger's then-fiance, actor Alec Baldwin. He and Basinger have since married.

Scaife-Richard clerks for Superior Court Judge Judith C. Chirlin, the presiding judge in the breach-of-contract trial in which Basinger was ordered to pay independent producer Main Line Pictures $8.1 million in damages.

The Jan. 2 story detailed the contents of a letter written by Scaife-Richard to Basinger five months after the trial in which the clerk said she wanted the money to buy a house.

Basinger's attorneys said the actress felt very uncomfortable about the request, particularly because her case is on appeal and stands a chance of ending up back in Chirlin's court. Basinger has filed for bankruptcy.

The story also noted that during a noon break in the trial, a baby shower was given for then-pregnant Scaife-Richard, and Basinger was invited. The actress told The Times that she wasn't sure what to do but that she was concerned about the implications should she not attend. Basinger said she did and was asked to sign autographs and have her picture taken with some of those attending the party; attendees included Chirlin and some of her employees and relatives.

Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman Jerrianne Hayslet said: "All court employees must conduct themselves in a manner that shows no impartiality and reflects on the fairness of the court. Anytime something occurs that is contrary to that policy, the court looks into it. The Times story prompted our review, which is under way and remains confidential."

If the court--which oversees personnel matters--finds that Scaife-Richard committed any acts of misconduct, she could be subject to disciplinary action ranging from an oral reprimand to a cut in pay to a suspension or firing.

When asked to comment, Chirlin would say only: "Where any court employee is accused of any impropriety, it is the court's responsibility to look into it." The judge reiterated that she had no knowledge at the time about the clerk's request for the loan.

Although Scaife-Richard declined to comment this week, she was quoted in the Jan. 2 article as saying that she made the request to Basinger in good faith and later realized it was a mistake and that she was embarrassed by it. But her Aug. 19 letter was followed up with numerous phone calls and a second letter in October detailing how she would use the loan, the actress's attorneys said.

According to the story, Basinger's attorneys said that the judge hugged the plaintiffs in the case, Main Line producer Carl Mazzocone and director Jennifer Lynch, following the verdict and in front of the other side.

The judge also attended the film's premiere in September, while the case was on appeal and could have fallen under her purview again. Chirlin said earlier that in hindsight, attending the premiere was probably a mistake. She said she did not recall hugging anyone after the jury delivered the verdict.

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