For once Chris Rock played the straight man. From the moment he stepped into court Friday to testify at Anthony Pellicano’s racketeering trial, Rock appeared somber and apprehensive. With hands clasped behind his back, he looked like a condemned man walking to the electric chair. Rock, wearing a dark suit and indigo shirt opened at the collar, took the witness stand at 8:04 a.m. When asked to state his name, he quietly said, “Uh, Chris Rock . . .”
“Mr. Rock – project!” ordered Judge Dale Fischer, but her light-hearted admonition drew no smiles from the comedian.
The courtroom was packed with visiting press expecting an HBO special of some kind. A few spectators complained about traffic jams created by fallen firefighter Brent Lovrien’s memorial, which was being held up the street at Our Lady of the Angels. Most people awaiting Rock’s arrival, however, knew it would be brief and anticlimactic, a quick catechism of when and how he had contacted private investigator Pellicano after buxom Hungarian model Monika Zsibrita (adult photos at http://tabloidrabies.blogspot.com/2006/04/monika-zsibrita-hungarian-model-who_25.html) tried to put the bite on him in a paternity suit. When DNA tests showed the charge unfounded, Rock said, Pellicano told him that he had received an LAPD report in which Zsibrita claimed the funnyman (Rock, not Pellicano) sexually assaulted her. Rock, however, was never shown the report by Pellicano.
Rock, unlike many of the witnesses in this strange trial, has not been charged or implicated in the work performed for him by Pellicano. In fact, Rock told prosecutor Daniel Saunders that he did not know how much was paid on his behalf to the PI, who had been contacted by Rock’s lawyer, Steve Barnes. Rock was then shown a DMV-LAPD information printout, allegedly provided to Pellicano by former LAPD Sergeant Mark Arneson, and asked if he saw Zsibrita’s name on it.
“I guess so,” he replied sulkily.
Saunders did not play a recording of Rock speaking on the phone to Pellicano while the comic was on the stand – saving that until after Rock had left. The prosecutor was satisfied to have Rock affirm that he had read its transcript and agreed with its accuracy.
When Arneson’s lawyer, Chad Hummel began the only cross-examination of Rock, he asked him if he had ever met his client.
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“You know, I’ve met a lot of people,” Rock replied.
Rock then began to get a little cranky with his answers, but never raised his voice above mumble-level. And, exactly 13 minutes after he took the witness stand, he was dismissed and Saunders played a snippet of the Rock-Pellicano phone conversation.
Laura Moreno next entered the courtroom to take the stand. Moreno had been 17 when she accused Pellicano client George Kalta of sexually assaulting her. By the time she reached the stand, two-thirds of the room had already left.
Click here to read Steven Mikulan's latest article, "Pellicano Trial reveals Hollywood's Top Bottom Feeders"