The Kardashian family lawyer flatly rebuffed a claim made by Blac Chyna’s attorney accusing the judge that oversaw the defamation suit between the feuding reality stars of bias.
As reported by TMZ yesterday, Chyna’s lawyer, Lynne Ciani, accused Judge Gregory Alarcon of being “undeniably hostile and extremely biased” toward herself and Chyna in a filing dated May 5. However, in new court documents obtained by Rolling Stone, the Kardashians’ lawyer, Michael Rhodes, refutes the claim and accuses Chyna of trying to “make a scapegoat of Judge Alarcon” after losing the defamation suit and calling the accusations of bias “frivolous, dishonest, and deserving of sanctions.”
Ciani did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
In the filing, Rhodes claims the biggest tell of the disqualification motion regarding Judge Alarcon was that Ciani filed it “after the jury found against her client. This delay reveals the true motivation underlying Plaintiff’s motion: to salvage Ms. Ciani’s reputation by deflecting blame for her own shortcomings at trial and generate further publicity for Plaintiff.”
Along with raising her disqualification qualms too late, Rhodes claims that nothing about Judge Alarcon’s conduct during the trial should raise any doubts over whether he was impartial. Rhodes, for instance, repudiates what he called Ciani’s “false (and bizarre)” allegation that he tried to curry favor with Judge Alarcon by “name-drop[ing] Mark Zuckerberg as a prior client” during an off-the-record meeting. He also noted that Judge Alarcon swiftly replaced a courtroom clerk who asked that her daughter get the chance to meet the Kardashians. And he states that the judge properly handled the supposed threats Chyna’s mother made against him online, which led to her ban from the courtroom.
“Ms. Ciani implies that after Plaintiff’s mother issued these inappropriate threats, Judge Alarcon needed to inform and discuss with her the impact of Plaintiff’s mother’s threats against him on his ability to remain fair and impartial,” Rhodes writes. “She cites no legal authority for this supposed duty, and there is none. It was Plaintiff’s responsibility to raise any concerns regarding Alarcon’s ability to remain fair and impartial as soon as possible.”
Additionally, the filing contends that Judge Alarcon was fair in his handling of evidence. Rhodes says the defense properly laid the groundwork for admitting certain evidence that the Plaintiff objected to (in this case, a text exchange between Chyna’s ex-fiancé Rob Kardashian and a producer on their reality show, which suggested Kardashian and Chyna’s relationship was not going well). But Rhodes suggests Ciani did not do the same when trying to include certain video clips in her opening statement. Rhodes also accused Chyna of not complying with discovery obligations to turn over her financial records, arguing she was “deliberately concealing the truth about her alleged lost income, which was the cornerstone of her damages claims.”
Furthermore, Rhodes hammered Ciani for ostensibly trying to accuse the judge of bias as a way to cover her own alleged shortcomings in court, especially as the judge kept validating the defense’s objections throughout the trial. In the filing, he says all those sustained objections, Rhodes states, didn’t show bias but rather “a poor command over the rules of evidence from Plaintiff’s counsel.” Rhodes states, too, that there was nothing biased about the way the judge handled jury instruction, and that at least one of her objections was because Ciani violated two Court orders requiring her to produce Chyna’s personal income records.