L.A. Judge Gives Attorneys Tongue Lashing

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Superior Court judge Monday scolded attorneys on both sides in the trial of an alleged slumlord accused of failing to repay $500,000 invested in four apartment buildings.
     Saying she was “very upset,” Superior Court Judge Rita Miller lambasted attorneys for failing to agree on language for jury instructions.
     Miller called one of the instructions she had been handed “ridiculous” and said the attorneys should have completed them weeks ago.
     “I’m very upset right now,” Miller said as she waved court papers at the attorneys, later adding: “I’ve never seen lawyers who can’t agree on the color of the sky like this.”
     Gabriel Barazani sued Franco Haiem, his wife Orit Haiem and brother Farzad Haiem in August 2013, claiming he’d lost his life’s savings giving them $535,000 to join their business, Mayan Ganem Investment .
     Claiming he was promised but never received a 50 percent stake in Mayan Ganem and 4 percent annual returns, Barazani demands $2 million in damages.
     Orit Haiem is his first cousin and persuaded him to invest in the properties, Barazani says.
     In a March counterclaim, the Haiems say Barazani agreed to pay all expenses for the building but refused to pay maintenance costs as the properties deteriorated.
     The family’s $1.6 million complaint for breach of contract and fraud claims that Barazani, of Israel, entered into the deal with the Haiems to launder money “going to and from Israel” and avoid paying taxes.
     In a separate case in April, Franco Haiem reached a $2 million settlement with 100 tenants of an apartment building on Maple Avenue, after four days of a jury trial.
     The tenants of a South L.A. property claimed that under Haiem’s ownership they lived in deplorable conditions, suffering through a severe cockroach and mice infestation.
     Two other tenant lawsuits are pending against Mayan Ganem Investment, involving its apartment buildings on West 10th Place and West 12th Place.
     Proceedings in the present case, which went to trial in May, have been ill-tempered.
     Miller issued a stern warning to the parties last month after Farzad Haiem told her during a recess that Barazani had called him a “son of a bitch” in a hall outside the courtroom.
     At an afternoon hearing on May 24, Miller warned Barazani and the Haiems to refrain from name calling or leave the courtroom, calling their behavior “extremely foolish.”
     That was after Barazani’s attorney Martin Horwitz told the court that he had learned that Farzad had aimed the “son of a bitch” comment at his client, rather than the other way round.
     Miller dismissed the 12-panel jury just before 3:30 p.m. Monday. The trial was to continue Tuesday morning.
     As Judge Miller stayed behind with the attorneys to work out the jury instructions she apologized to the attorneys for being “grouchy” but wondered why they had not worked together on the instructions earlier.

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