Richards rejects mock trial

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Comedian Michael Richards won't attend a weekend mock trial with four black people targeted during his racial rant at a comedy club because the gathering is open to the media and amounts to a publicity stunt, his lawyer said Friday.

Attorney Douglas Mirell said any meeting between Richards and the three men and one woman should be private.

Richards portrayed Kramer on the television sitcom, "Seinfeld."

The incident occurred Nov. 17 at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. The comedian launched into a string of obscenities that included the "n-word" and a reference to lynching blacks after someone in the group of friends told him he wasn't funny. A video cell phone captured the outburst.

"We wanted to apologize face to face to the individuals in the club that night," Mirell said. "Now this has been turned into a modern-day kangaroo court."

After the incident, Richards said he wanted to apologize to the patrons. However, lawyers for both sides couldn't agree on the circumstances under which a meeting would take place.

Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents the patrons, organized the mock trial and invited Richards.

Allred criticized Richards for apologizing to black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and on the "Late Show with David Letterman" but not to the people he verbally attacked.

"Mr. Richards had no hesitation in crying his crocodile tears and giving his spin on how sorry he was in a public venue," Allred said.

Richards' absence won't stop the gathering, which was set for Saturday afternoon at Loyola Law School, she said.

The mock trial, which will be open to media but closed to the public, will feature a three-person "jury" that include former California Supreme Court Justice Armand Arabian and two lawyers.

After listening to legal arguments and testimony, the group will make a decision on whether Richards was accountable and what he should do to mend his actions, Arabian said.

While the mock trial is not legally binding, Arabian said it was important to further discussions about racial name-calling in America.

"The use of racial epithets and labeling people in a racial way is a very relevant issue today," Arabian said. "It's instructive for the public to have a view of what this is like for someone who is a recipient" of racial insults.
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