This morning was supposed to be the day Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis would formally divorce his current lawyers of the Bernhoft firm and find someone else to represent him in his $20 million federal tax-evasion case. With Robert Bernhoft and Bob Barnes present in Judge James Otero's court, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Caryn Mark smiling from a video monitor via a live hookup, the 8:30 a.m. scheduled time arrived — with no Joe Francis.
At 8:33 a.m. a court clerk called Francis and left a polite message wondering where he was, while apologizing for calling Francis' cell phone number. By 8:40 a.m. Judge Otero entered and was told Francis wasn't present — nor anyone seeking to be his new attorney in the long-running pre-trial case. Mark then asked that a bench warrant be issued for Francis' arrest, which Otero granted. There is still a chance Francis could show up today although, as Caryn Mark reminded the court, the prosector is closing on a house at 2:30 p.m. and will not be around then — either in person or on a video screen.