LawFuel.com – August 1, 2009 – We’ve heard of some fairly bizarre court proceedings, but it’s hard to imagine anything topping the performance of former Guess CEO Georges Marciano under questioning by R. Rex Parris, a lawyer for two of Marciano’s former employees, in Los Angeles superior court last week.
As The Recorder reported this week, Monday’s $370 million verdict against the French designer-turned-real estate magnate was a stunning reversal for Marciano, who launched the fiasco in 2007 by suing five former employees for fraud and embezzlement. The employees turned around and sued Marciano for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Marciano seemed almost determined to ire Los Angeles County superior court judge Elizabeth White. He changed lawyers repeatedly, refused to comply with discovery orders or to appear for scheduled court dates, and failed to show up for depositions. Judge White ultimately dismissed Marciano’s suit and ruled that he could not answer cross-claims by his former employees. In a March bench trial, she found him liable to the five onetime employees.
When the jury trial to determine their damages began last week, Marciano was again a no-show. But last Wednesday, the flamboyant Frenchman suddenly showed up–and in grand fashion.
Parris’s client was testifying at the time, Parris told us. A cell phone went off, and everyone turned their attention to the courtroom door. A moment later, Marciano and his entourage entered. Parris immediately asked Judge White if he could call Marciano to the stand.
“It was kind of scary, because I didn’t know what I was going to ask him,” Parris said.
Marciano, he knew, could be charming. But Parris told us he thought he provoke Marciano and show the jury that he wasn’t such a nice guy.
“I was attempting to get his heart rate up,” said Parris.
He had free range because Judge White ruled that Marciano’s counsel–Browne Woods George partner Marcy Railsback–could only object to questions that touched on privileged information. So Parris engaged Marciano on a wide variety of topics, ranging from where his posse had parked their two SUVs that morning (apparently in the no-parking zone) to accusations Marciano made about Judge White (he said she was racist). We told you: It was bizarre. (Here’s the transcript.)
Critically, Parris also elicited a response from Marciano that showed his determination to punish his former employees.
“Do you equate what you’re doing to these people and to this judge as a fight?” Parris asked.
“No,” said Marciano. “It’s a crusade, Sir.”
Parris, who serves as the mayor of Lancaster, Calif., in addition to running his own practice, told us Thursday that Marciano had become a “villain” in the eyes of the jurors.