Will Billionaire Alki David’s Bizarre Behavior in Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Trials Affect Pending Jury Verdict and Retrial?
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Terry A. Green, stated publicly that what had transpired was incomparable to anything he had previously witnessed in his 47 years of practicing law. Judge Green was referring to the bizarre behavior of Alki David, the defendant currently embroiled in two sexual harassment cases before two separate courtrooms (albeit within the same courthouse). On Monday, Green presided over one of said cases, at which time David’s defense rested on allegations of both sexual harassment and sexual battery brought by Ms. Lauren Reeves, a former employee.
Mr. David is heir to a multibillion-dollar Coca-Cola bottling fortune, and an entrepreneur with holdings in multiple media and entertainment companies including Hologram USA, perhaps best known for producing slain rapper Tupac Shakur’s virtual recreation at Coachella in 2012. He has been described by The Hollywood Reporter as “one of Hollywood’s biggest troublemakers,” a rather fitting description considering that throughout the trial David was ejected from the courtroom on multiple occasions for being disruptive and shouting obscenities during witness’ testimony (he also stormed out of the courtroom on two occasions while screaming at a witness). Last week, after a bailiff removed David from the courtroom, he carried out a tirade of yelling and screaming in the hallway for several minutes. As a result, David’s attorney, Ellyn S. Garofalo, of Venable LLP submitted a request for a mistrial, citing concern over the possibility that her client’s antics may have negatively biased the jury.
Though Garofalo ultimately decided not to pursue the motion, Judge Green’s comments regarding the unprecedented nature of David’s behavior came during the hearing specifically addressing the mistrial request. Seemingly in disbelief, Green stated that, “I’ve never seen this before…Despite me rehearsing this every night in my head about how I’m going to respond to a number of circumstances, I’ve just never seen this.” Reeves’ attorney, Nathan Goldberg, of Allred Marako & Goldberg complained directly to the judge after David spewed a torrent of profanity directed at his client. Green responded rhetorically to Goldberg, asking him bluntly, “What do you want me to do, wrestle him to the ground?”
Throughout the trial the courtroom environment seemed to vacillate between comedy spectacle and legal travesty. Judge Green referenced the fact that it was virtually impossible to control David considering that he was undeterred by any potential monetary sanctions. Furthermore, the judge expressed frustration by noting that his dilemma was compounded by David exuding complete disregard for whether or not the jury might perceive him in a negative light on account of his behavior.
Though David’s demeanor was unorthodox and unruly, often to the point of absurdity, it should not overshadow the serious nature of Reeves’ allegations against him. Reeves worked for a number of David’s media companies from 2015 to 2016. She testified that during that time she was subjected to both physical and psychological abuse, including David grabbing her throat and buttocks, and regularly propositioning her for sex. Consistent with David’s bizarre courtroom behavior, Reeves described an office incident where he undressed and, while completely nude, displayed what he referred to as his “mangina,” which entailed tucking his genitals between his legs and out of her field of vision. Additionally, Reeves described an incident where David pulled down his pants and forced her head towards his crotch.
During his testimony, David admitted to engaging in some of the behavior described by Reeves, but attempted to minimize and excuse it as merely examples of jokes that were commonplace around the office. David further clarified the office culture as indicative of the “shock content” for which his media companies were well known. But Reeves’ litany of allegations represents only part of the legal predicament David found himself responding to on Monday.
Earlier that day a hearing to schedule a retrial by another former employee of David’s was held, this time in a different courtroom within the courthouse. Elizabeth Taylor, the plaintiff in this particular case, alleged that David had subjected her to both sexual battery and sexual harassment. The move for a retrial comes after a hung jury failed to reach a verdict in September.
David chose to represent himself in the first Taylor trial, a move that ended up costing him $9,500 in sanctions levied by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Christopher K. Lui, for yet another round of disorderly and, at times, inexplicable behavior. Lui eventually banned David from the courtroom after he directed profane insults at Taylor’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, of The Bloom Firm. Bloom has since indicated that she will seek terminating sanctions in the case.
Los Angeles Magazine reported that David took time to express his rationale for representing himself to Judge Lui, stating that, “This is the reason I am representing myself…Because there are certain things that lawyers will not do, and that is to tell this jury exactly what the truth is.”
David has denied all sexual allegations made by Taylor, though in the September trial he once again admitted to multiple other allegations which he attempted to categorize as jokes that were consensual and accepted around the office. Throughout the case of Elizabeth Taylor, David displayed an aggressively adversarial and often disrespectful demeanor towards Bloom (the Taylor trial is the second time David has faced Bloom in court, after losing a landmark $11 million jury verdict to her in a similar sexual harassment case from April, which grew to over $12 million with the judge’s further award of attorneys’ fees issued yesterday). Bloom confirmed to PINews that David’s aggressiveness in the April trial prompted the judge to issue the presence of an armed sheriff’s deputy in the courtroom, a truly rare occurrence for civil trials (David was at one point forced out of the courtroom, accompanied by the armed deputy, while he “screamed and yelled”).
Bloom, a nationally recognized litigator, author, and legal analyst for various news networks, indicated to PINews that the Taylor case will be retried next year, noting that “in the first trial the jury reached a decision on two claims, 12-0 in our favor.”
Bloom described David’s “appalling” courtroom (and subsequent) behavior in the Taylor trial to PINews, stating that it entailed:
“…yelling profanities, screaming out angry tirades hour after hour, day after day, and posting threats to Ms. Taylor and me on his Instagram. One was a picture of a bloody knife next to our bloody faces, [with] our faces X’d out. In another, he posted a video of himself shaking a fist, stating that fist was coming for me.”
Bloom added that, “We will be filing several motions related to his shocking, offensive, and unlawful behavior shortly. Mr. David must be forced to follow the law and court rules like everyone else. “
At present, David’s case with Reeves is in the hands of the deliberating jury. PINews will update this story as additional information comes to light.