By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon has stricken a statement of disqualification seeking to bar him, for cause, from presiding over the trial of an action by model/socialite Blac Chyna against her ex-fiancé Rob Kardashian, of the celebrity Kardashian clan, based on a “revenge porn” claim alleging that he posted “humiliating and degrading” photos of her on the Internet.
Alarcon has just finished presiding over a trial in which Chyna—suing under her actual name of Angela White—sought damages against Rob Kardasian’s mother, Kris Jenner, and her daughters (by then-husband Robert Kardashian) Kim Kardashian and Khloé Kardashian, and her daughter (by then-husband Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner) Kylie Jenner.
The plaintiff contended that the defendants exerted their influence to cause the cable channel E! to cancel the 2016 reality show “Rob & Chyna” in which she appeared. Evidence did show that family members were upset over Chyna’s alleged mistreatment of Rob Kardasian, including a gun incident.
Victory for Karsahians
The judge held on April 29 that a defamation claim against Kim Kardashian had been unproven, and a jury on May 2 rejected the remaining claims. Chyna’s lawyer, Lynne Ciani, on May 5 filed the statement of disqualification aimed at precluding Alarcon from handling the next phase—Chyna’s action against Rob Kardashian—as well as post-trial matters in the defamation action.
(Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock on Feb. 10, 2020 ordered that the cause of action for revenge porn be tried separately.)
Ciani asserted in her statement of disqualification, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §170.3, that Alarcon evinced animosity toward her client after an allegation emerged that Chyna’s mother had made a death threat against him. After that, she contended, he made aberrant rulings.
The lawyer also maintained that he failed to control his then-clerk, Cheryl Mason, who arranged a private meeting with the defendants while the trial was in progress so that she and her adult daughter, Phoenix, could gain their autographs from the Kardashians or photos with them.
Alarcon struck the statement of disqualification under Code of Civil Procedure §170.4(b) which authorizes such an action where “a statement of disqualification…on its face it discloses no legal grounds for disqualification.” He declared in his order:
“A party’s remedy for an erroneous ruling is not a motion to disqualify, but rather review by appeal or writ….
“The fact that the court was briefly advised by sheriff’s deputies of threats by plaintiff’s mother is not grounds for disqualification for cause.”
“Allegations of misconduct by the court’s clerk are not grounds for disqualification of the judge,” Alarcon wrote, citing a 1986 opinion of the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “If the clerk has engaged in such conduct, it’s the clerk, not the judge who must be disqualified….That is exactly what occurred here.”
According to reliable sources, Mason has resigned rather than face disciplinary measures. However, a court spokesperson said yesterday:
“The Court has no comment.”
Ciani said in a statement released late Wednesday:
“An unbiased judge would have allowed another Los Angeles Superior Court judge to review plaintiff’s statement of disqualification and decide for him or herself whether Judge Alarcon should have been disqualified. Instead, the biased judge ruled that he is not biased, thereby depriving Angela White of justice once again.”
Also on Wednesday, Ciana filed a motion to strike the Kardashians’ opposition to the disqualification as being unauthorized, taking occasion to reassert bases for the disqialification, and declaring that her client “respectfully requests” that if the opposition is not stricken that “at a minimum,” it “not be considered by the judge determining the issue of Judge Alarcon’s disqualification.”
Another judge won’t be determinining that issue unless Ciana obtains a writ of mandate instructing Alarcon to vacate his order striking the statement of disqualification. The lawyer has not responded to an inquiry as to whether she will seek a writ.
A trial-setting conference in the revenge porn case is set for May 19.
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