By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The Trial of the Century, set to begin next week, has been delayed until early next year.
We speak, of course, of the epic courtroom tilt between a Continental Airlines flight attendant and Victoria Osteen, wife of big-bucks, big-smile, God-loves-money preacher Joel Osteen.
Is there any other lawsuit out there that addresses the fundamental issue of whether someone might have been rude and pushy on an airplane? We doubt it.
Attorney Reginald McKamie is representing flight attendant Sharon Brown, who was allegedly elbowed in the breast and yelled at by Osteen over who should wipe up some spilled liquid.
McKamie is highly annoyed that during the recent publicity tour for Joel Osteen's latest mega-selling book, both he and his wife downplayed the December 2005 incident. The media let them get away with it, he says.
McKamie says the evidence shows there is "a dark and sinister" side to Victoria, so he's sending what he feels is some of that evidence out to the media in the form of witness statements and deposition highlights.
"Are you willing to tell the story of an average American who was merely doing her job when she was physically attacked and verbally demeaned by a powerful megastar?" he asked in a cover letter.
The Osteens and their attorney, Rusty Hardin, have said the lawsuit is simply a money grab, and...well...even though Hair Balls has never been a big Osteen booster, they probably are right. (In an interview, McKamie vehemently disagrees: "Is your dignity worth anything to you?" he asks.)
Statements from passengers do include descriptions of Victoria Osteen being "very rude and obnoxious" over the spill. And Osteen has already paid a $3,000 fine to the FAA over the incident, for what it's worth.
Anyway, let's get to the highlights!
Best (Alleged) Quote: "Angel, if you think I'm going to apologize, I'm not." Victoria Osteen to flight attendant Brown, allegedly, allegedly. Gotta love the "Angel" reference from a preacher's wife.
Best Waffling: Joel Osteen, under oath in a deposition, is asked if his wife told a flight attendant, "You clean it up, it's not my job." His response: "I don't remember her saying that, Victoria saying it like that. She said something to the effect of that — maybe something to that effect, but I don't think she said it like that...Victoria said, you know, basically, 'I can't clean that up. Could you please clean it up for me?'" (You know, she said it but "basically" said it much, much nicer — maybe, I don't remember.)
Most Self-Unaware Statement: After Hardin accuses McKamie of "repeating a bunch of pabulum" in his questioning, McKamie asks Joel Osteen if he agrees. "I don't know what pabulum means," Osteen answers. (Merriam-Webster defines pabulum as "Something (as writing or speech) that is insipid, simplistic, or bland." It somehow doesn't add "See Osteen, Joel, sermons by.")
Exchange which best foreshadows the upcoming lawyer mismatch: After McKamie gets Osteen to agree he and his wife are role models for Christians:
Hardin: Excuse me. Where is this going? I mean, he's going to answer these questions, but I find it highly offensive. What does whether or not what they are or what they are not have to do with this?
McKamie: It has a lot to do with it.
Hardin: What? Please state for the record what.
McKamie: What it is, it has — it has destroyed my client's faith in what her actions were. And I'll get around to it and —
Hardin: She is claiming in this case that this has affected her faith in God?
McKamie: It is, yes.
Hardin: And that is a cause of action, and that is something she's decided to be compensated for?
McKamie: That's part of her damages.
We can all but envision the rolling eyes and disbelieving voice as Hardin brings this out in front of a jury.
Weirdest exchange: After McKamie reads Joel Osteen's description of flight attendant Verssie Ray being aged "about 50 years old":
Ray: That's a compliment. I am 60.
McKamie: Jesus. Okay. You look good for 60.
The trial was scheduled to begin next week, but Hardin has a scheduling conflict so it will likely happen in March.
We can't wait. We think.
Eye in the Sky
The Houston Police Department has announced only after a Channel 2 reporter exposed the matter that they are testing out an unmanned drone to patrol the skies above town. You are free to believe that this is either a technological boon, or the kind of silliness that happens when cities elbow their way to the trough of federal antiterrorism funds. We havent seen the diagrams of HPDs new toy, but were pretty sure it looks something like this.