Trials of Jesse: Biker to be frequent court figure

FILE - This photo taken March 7, 2010 shows Jesse James arriving for the Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, file)
June 12, 2010 7:02:32 PM PDT
Jesse James is getting his day in court. Quite a few of them, actually.

The biker businessman and estranged husband of Sandra Bullock was a fixture in a Los Angeles courtroom this week, where he's involved in dueling lawsuits with an apparel manufacturer and distributor.

James, 41, is scheduled to testify and is expected to attend all the proceedings. The case, with millions of dollars on the line, is far from the only one involving James. It is, however, one that centers on his business rather than his personal life.

He is also embroiled in a custody dispute in neighboring Orange County with his ex-wife, Janine Lindemulder. James had been expected to attend a hearing in that case next week, but it may be postponed.

There's also James' ongoing divorce from Bullock playing out in Austin, Texas. No proceedings have been scheduled in that case.

Bullock filed for divorce in April after several women claimed they had extramarital affairs with James. He apologized to Bullock, but he and his attorney have maintained the vast majority of the claims against James are untrue.

James is the owner of West Coast Choppers, a custom motorcycle shop in Long Beach, Calif. He also owns several other businesses and has cultivated his bike-making craftsmanship and tough-guy persona into several televisions shows, most recently Spike TV's "Jesse James is a Dead Man."

The clothing dispute being heard in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom centers on a deal James and his companies made with Fortune Fashion Industries. The apparel company sued James in late 2007, claiming he had breached a contract that was worth millions of dollars to produce workwear.

James has denied the allegations and countersued Fortune Fashions, saying the company didn't disclose it didn't have experience creating that type of apparel.

He spent two days this week listening to jury selection, a rare exercise for a celebrity involved in a civil case. Often, stars involved in civil matters only appear in court when they testify.

James, dressed in workboots or other workshop attire, has opted to sit behind his attorneys so far during proceedings. While he had to listen to some potential jurors opine on his personal life, the subject is off-limits during the trial.

A judge on Friday asked Fortune Fashions' attorney to refrain from using the word "cheater" in his opening remarks, even though he intended it only in relations to James' business dealings.

Numerous celebrity reporters and photographers showed up Wednesday when jury selection began, but their numbers had dwindled by opening statements on Friday. The case is expected to last several weeks.

One courthouse where James won't be showing up anytime soon is the criminal one. A paparazzo accused James of vandalizing his car after cheating allegations surfaced, but prosecutors rejected filing charges.

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