Michael Richards expected it to be a mediation. Not a media circus.
The former Seinfeld star was a no-show Saturday for a mock trial in Los Angeles to address jos racial tirade during a stand-up routine last November.
The event was organized by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the four African-Americans Richards targeted with the N-word, and took place at Loyola Law School.
Richards' lawyer, Douglas Mirell, said his client sought numerous "opportunities to apologize to all who were offended by his words"—including reaching out to African-American leaders, sending personal letters of apology to the men and agreeing to a "confidential mediation" with them—but declined to participate in Saturday's event because Allred ignored state guidelines for how such an "important personal dialogue" should be carried out in favor of organizing a "Jerry Springer-style publicity stunt."
"Ms. Allred has unilaterally and improperly selected a mediation date, time, location and mediator without even bothering to confer with Mr. Richards’ lawyers. She has also incongruously insisted that the confidential mediation be open to onlookers and TV cameras," Mirell said in a statement.
"A mediation cannot occur without the agreement of all parties. The event Ms. Allred now seeks to conduct not only flies in the face of California law, which mandates confidentiality in mediation, but also will prevent any true reconciliation between Michael and her clients."
Richards' camp argued that the comic actor "remains steadfast in his desire" to meet with the men face-to-face and tell them he's sorry, but will only do so if it's "in a mediation that is legitimately arranged and lawfully conducted."
Allred had previously challenged Richards on the Today Show to meet with her clients before a retired judge, and Richard accepted. But Allred told E! Online that she was tired of waiting and decided to get things moving this weekend.
The aim, as she put it, was to conduct an "open and transparent" meeting in the presence of a retired judge and air the full facts of the incident.
So Allred convened a three-member "jury" that included a retired state supreme court justice, an African-American lawyer and a Filipino civil rights lawyer.
The panel heard an opening statement, testimony from Allred's clients about Richards' invective (along with additional comments he allegedly made that weren't captured on the infamous cell-phone footage), and comments from experts on the harm the N-word can cause to African-Americans.
After final arguments, the "jury" would then deliberate and "deliver a decision as to whether or not he should be held accountable given the law."
Allred said she kept asking the erstwhile Cosmo Kramer to attend practically up to the start of the mock trial.
"He wants it to be cloaked in secrecy with no public accountability and no public awareness of what happened, and we want this to be open and do it in a fair way," the attorney said. "Mr. Richards had no hesitation in crying his crocodile tears and giving his spin in a public venue, but now when we want him to be fully accountable in front of his clients, he says no."
Although he wasn't there in person, Richards was present via the cell-phone video.
Allred said the event was open to the media, but not to the public.
With Richards MIA, the verdict wasn't much of surprise: The panel found against the actor and recommended he pay each of the men $50,000.
While comparing it to a "default proceeding," the attorney did acknowledge that the gathering and the panel's decision is "not legally binding."
When asked whether her clients intended to file a lawsuit to seek punitive damages against the 57-year-old Richards, Allred declined to answer, saying only that the men were focused on the meeting at this point.