Sheldon Adelson’s prop comedy routine didn’t exactly leave everyone in stitches Thursday in District Judge Rob Bare’s packed courtroom.
On the first day of testimony stemming from Richard Suen’s allegation that he helped Las Vegas Sands Corp. land a coveted casino license in Macau, company CEO Adelson’s memory was cloudy under the questioning of plaintiff’s counsel John O’Malley.
At one point, Adelson paused and nearly disappeared from view on the witness stand as he bent to retrieve something. Had he dropped a pencil, lost a contact lens?
No, he was gathering convention catalogs from a briefcase a company security officer had placed inside the witness box, supposedly without the knowledge of the boss’s team of attorneys.
Hey, at least it wasn’t a seltzer bottle or a kazoo in there.
A shocked O’Malley watched as Adelson used the materials to illustrate the point that his company had plenty of experience in the marketing and publicity game and didn’t need Suen’s assistance. Suen is suing Sands, claiming he was promised $5 million and 2 percent of the company’s net profits in Macau, or approximately $328 million.
Suen won a $43.8 million jury verdict in the first trial, only to watch the victory overturned in 2010 by the state Supreme Court.
Outside the presence of the jury and Adelson, Suen attorney James Pisanelli moved for a mistrial on the grounds that the strange display of materials not in evidence had prejudiced the jury beyond curing. Although the judge denied the request, he allowed Pisanelli the opportunity to provide him with a jury instruction at the conclusion of testimony.
Although Suen’s attorneys weren’t laughing, Adelson’s antics left me wondering whether he has missed his calling despite his grand success in the casino business.
Maybe he should have been one of those prop comedians like Carrot Top or Gallagher.
SAY CHEESE: Adelson’s attorneys fought unsuccessfully to keep cameras out of the courtroom during their client’s testimony.
They not only failed to prevent gavel-to-gavel television coverage, but their efforts appear to have increased interest in the trial, which has drawn reporters from national publications.
A favorite moment in the pretrial proceeding came when attorney Donald Campbell, who represented the Review-Journal and local television stations in pressing for camera approval, sought to illustrate the essential importance of their presence in the courtroom. With a Harvard University law professor representing Adelson, Campbell quoted a noted scholar on the subject.
He began, “’It makes little sense in my view to censor the only unbiased, direct and only entirely truthful reporter of the trial — the courtroom television camera — while still allowing extensive coverage by more biased, partisan, and inaccurate human reporters.’ ”
Author of that passage?
Alan Dershowitz in his 1996 book “Reasonable Doubts.”
MOB PRINCE: At the height of his criminal activity, former Colombo crime family prince Michael Franzese was one of America’s most successful mobsters outside Congress. These days he knocks ’em dead as a popular public speaker and author.
Franzese was spotted at the Triple George restaurant on Thursday in advance of his scheduled appearance at 6:30 p.m. April 12 at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the Mob Museum.
Word is Franzese toured the museum Thursday and saw plenty of photos of old friends of the family.
SONNY KING: This week marks the seventh anniversary of the death of legendary Las Vegas entertainer and all-world nice guy Sonny King. He couldn’t have found a better keeper of his memory than his wife, Peggy King.
Although he was probably best known as a pal of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Sonny was an even kinder person than he was an entertainer.
ON THE BOULEVARD: There’s still time to get tickets for the Evening of Hope to benefit Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada. The event is set for 6 p.m. April 27 at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center. For more information, go to candlelightersnv.org.
Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.