Property tycoon Mohamed Hadid is calling for a mistrial in his Los Angeles mega-mansion case, claiming he was ‘humiliated, traumatized and intimidated’ after a juror accused him of secretly taking cell phone photos of the judge in his case.
The strange twist during the fifth week of his trial is detailed in new court documents obtained by DailyMail.com – in which the embattled developer’s attorneys describe a ‘loathsome and bizarre spectacle’ occurred at the Santa Monica courtroom Monday.
Lawyer Christopher Pitet claimed ‘a group of intimidating uniformed Sheriff’s deputies’ and two plain-clothes cops, ‘formed a ring around Hadid and his two daughters as Judge Lawrence Cho suddenly took the stand and announced an ‘investigation’ to determine whether Hadid had committed the serious crime of photographing Judge Craig Karlan earlier in the day.’
Mohamed Hadid was seen arriving at the Santa Monica Courthouse alongside his attorney Jeff Reeves, before taking the stand at his trial on August 12. The ongoing trial is the culmination of a years-long dispute with his Hadid’s neighbors over his illegally-built monster mansion
Neighbors have long complained that the mega mansion on Strada Vecchia road poses a threat to their homes and is in violation of building codes in addition to being a blight on the community
The jury, consisting of eight men and four women, plus six alternate jurors, were shuttled in a caravan through the winding roads of upscale Bel Air to look at the giant, hilltop house – from the homes below of the neighbors suing Hadid, the Horaceks and the Bedrosians
In 2019 a judge ordered the property – dubbed the ‘starship enterprise’ – to be torn down out of safety concerns, saying it was a nuisance and a danger to the public, but it is yet to be demolished
‘Judge Cho asked Hadid to unlock his cell phone and provide it to the deputies so that they could search it for pictures of Judge Karlan,’ he continued.
After deputies failed to find any ‘offending’ photos, Pitet said attorney Gary Lincenberg ‘nevertheless asked Judge Cho to order a warrantless search of Hadid’s cell phone for “communications” and even had the temerity to request that the phones of Hadid’s daughters be searched as well.’
‘Mr. Hadid was shaken and humiliated,’ he added. ‘In the end, the spectacle revealed nothing more than the fact that he has been the victim of a proven false report of a serious crime.’
Pitet argued for a mistrial based on ‘gross juror misconduct’, claiming that while Hadid was ultimately ‘exonerated,’ the damage, prejudice and ‘trauma’ caused by the stunt could not be undone.
‘[A] juror falsely accused Mr. Hadid during the course of a trial in which millions (maybe tens of millions) of dollars are at stake. That alone warrants a mistrial,’ he added.
‘Although it is not clear at the present time, the possibility that this juror has infected other jurors with the false accusation cannot be ignored.’
Hadid has attended the five weeks of the trial, sometimes with his oldest daughters, Alana (far right) 36, and Marielle, 40 (second from left) by his side
Hadid is calling for a mistrial in his Los Angeles mega-mansion case, claiming he was ‘humiliated, traumatized and intimidated’ after a juror accused him of secretly taking cell phone photos of the judge in his case
If Judge Karlan refuses to call a mistrial, Hadid’s legal team called on him to ‘thoroughly interrogate’ the juror involved to find out if he or she had spoken to other jurors about the photo accusation.
They also asked to dismiss the juror and refer him or her to the LA District Attorney ‘for possible prosecution for the making of a false report of a crime during a judicial proceeding.’
Attorney Pitet also called on the court to question all the lawyers representing both the neighbors and Hadid, ‘to determine what role, if any, they had in this fiasco.
‘Each lawyer on both trial teams should be questioned to determine whether and to what extent, they or their clients had any role in prompting a sitting juror to amen a serious and false allegation against Mr. Hadid.’
Pitet singled out the neighbors’ lead attorney, Lincenberg, telling Judge Karlan he ‘should be admonished for inviting the court to conduct warrantless searches of cell phones belonging to the Hadid family.’
The jury in property Hadid’s got to see the half-built colossus with their own eyes during a visit to the site on Tuesday.
The eight men and four women, plus six alternate jurors, were shuttled in a caravan of three vans up the winding, narrow roads of upscale Bel Air to look at the giant, hilltop house – dubbed the ‘Starship Enterprise’ – from the homes below of the neighbors suing Hadid, the Horaceks and the Bedrosians.
The neighbors claim that the past nine years of construction on the mansion turned their lives into a nightmare and they are seeking cash damages from him to compensate them for the ‘stress and anxiety, the constant fear and sleepless nights,’ they have suffered.
They say they are afraid that Hadid’s mansion is so unstable that it could slide down the hill and destroy their houses below.
The jurors were accompanied by lawyers from both sides plus LA Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan, who has ordered the now-crumbling structure to be destroyed. He is also the judge presiding over the civil trial, now in its fifth week.
The group – escorted by Sheriff’s deputies – first stopped at the home of John and Judy Bedrosian where they checked out the view above of the looming shell of what was to be a glittering palace that Hadid hoped to sell for $100million.
Next they walked or took a ride in one of the vans a quarter mile up the hill to the home of Bill and Bibi Horacek whose house and driveway sit directly below the tarp-covered steep slope above which the massive building is perched.
The jury did not tour the actual mansion at the center of the lawsuit and the gates to the compound where the Hadid house sits remained chained and locked today.
The massive palace Hadid once hoped to sell for $100million now sits abandoned and half-constructed on the hilltop
The jurors took their impressions of the massive house back to LA Superior Court in Santa Monica where they’ll start deliberations on their verdict after closing arguments are made later this week
Neighbors have argued that Hadid’s mansion – which is two times larger than the permitted size – is so unstable that it could slide down the hill and destroy their houses below
The jury members were given a chance to view the tarp-covered mansion from the homes of neighors Bill and Bibi Horacek and John and Judy Bedrosian, who live below
The jury did not tour the actual mansion at the center of the lawsuit and the gates to the compound where the Hadid house sits remained chained and locked today
Judge Karlan – minus his black robes and instead wearing a white shirt, gray pants and a blue tie – ordered that no photographs could be taken of jurors during their 70-minute on-site inspection.
Pointing to the public street where the jurors were walking between the two neighbors’ homes, the judge told DailyMail.com: ‘This street is part of my courtroom right now and I am ordering that no pictures be taken of my jurors.
‘Anyone who takes photographs of the jurors will be in violation of my order.’
DailyMail.com is respecting the judge’s order.
The jurors took their impressions of the massive house back to LA Superior Court in Santa Monica where they’ll start deliberations on their verdict after closing arguments are made later this week by the the legal teams of Hadid and the neighbors he’s been feuding with for almost a decade.
If he loses, it could cost the maverick 72 year-old real estate developer millions. A loss for the neighbors would also be costly since they’ve spent millions on legal fees – plus engineers, geologists, architects and other experts – fighting Hadid’s ‘monstrosity.’
The Horaceks and the Bedrosians brought their lawsuit against the father of supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid after the 15,000-square feet house he was supposed to build, illegally grew into a behemoth more than twice that size, towering over their properties.
During the jury site visit, attorney Ariel Neuman, (left), representing the neighbors, and Hadid’s attorney Bruce Rudman (right) were pictured outside the home of John and Judy Bedrosian
Hadid’s Bel Air neighbors claim that the past nine years of construction on the mansion turned their lives into a nightmare and they are now seeking damages to compensate for the ‘stress and anxiety’ they have suffered as a result
Hadid – who has denied any wrongdoing in the construction – is countersuing, accusing Horacek, founding member of a powerful LA law firm, of ‘shaking him down’ by trying to extort $3.5 million from the Palestinian-American mogul in exchange for using his influence to make the developer’s problems with the City ‘go away.’
The mega-mansion should have been torn down by now, thanks to a demolition order made almost two years ago by Judge Karlan, who declared it a ‘clear and present danger’ to the community around it,’ mainly because the foundation piles supporting the hillside house don’t comply with local building codes.
It’s still standing because Hadid – once a multi-millionaire – claims he doesn’t have the $5 million it would cost to demolish it.
And a buyer who had offered $9million to purchase the building – and tear it down – recently backed out of the deal.
The neighbors’ lead attorney, Gary Lincenberg, has filed a motion in Judge Karlan’s court, blasting the City of LA for allowing Hadid to get away with building his massive, illegal house in the first place and demanding that the city tear it down immediately because of the threat it poses to the homes it overlooks.
Gigi and Bella Hadid’s father faces $60million in losses in the civil suit over his condemned Los Angeles mega-mansion
Neighbors have been fighting for years for the demolition of the property because of all the alleged unapproved construction. The development of the home has also been an eyesore to nearby residents and now a danger due to heavy Los Angeles rain
Attorney Gary Lincenberg pointed out that according to expert opinion, piles supporting the house – which were not sunk deep enough into the hillside to comply with local building codes – ‘will fail in the event of a 24-year earthquake or a 10-20-year rain event’
That motion is still pending and is scheduled to be heard by Judge Karlan in October.
The neighbors, led by Horacek, 79 – a retired entertainment lawyer with the firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, whose clients have included movie star Michael Douglas and TV’s Dr. Phil – have been present in court throughout the trial, except for John Bedrosian who is in his 80s and is recovering from a broken hip.
Hadid has attended the five weeks of the trial, sometimes with his oldest daughters, Alana, 36, and Marielle, 40, by his side.
He declared last October that he’s broke – facing a whopping $60 million in losses over the headline-making mansion, half of that his own money and the other half loans.
He also claimed that he owes an additional $15 million in court judgements against him, he’s had to ‘drastically downsize’ from a 48,000 square foot home to a more ‘modest’ one, he’s made no money from the caviar and champagne products that carry his name, and his model daughters’ eyewear line – also using the Hadid brand – has gone belly up.
Hadid has tried several legal moves to try to stop or delay the wrecking ball. First he filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming he ‘couldn’t afford’ the $5 million demo cost. That was dismissed.
Then he filed an appeal against Judge Karlan’s order to tear down the giant house. That too was denied. In May last year he launched a desperate bid to save his building project by asking California’s Supreme Court to send the case back to Judge Karlan’s court.
Hadid puts most of the blame for his troubles on ‘nightmare neighbor’ Joe Horacek (pictured in front of his home with Hadid’s home in the background), who he says became ‘obsessed’ with the case
But the state’s highest court torpedoed his efforts, refusing even to hear the case. Then, in a last-ditch move, Hadid’s lawyers filed a second appeal – this time against Judge Karlan’s decision to appoint a receiver to oversee destruction of the house. He lost that appeal as well.
Hadid was prosecuted criminally by the City of LA in 2015 after he refused to comply with ‘stop work’ orders.
He pleaded no contest to three criminal charges involving illegal construction and in July 2017 he was told he would serve a 180-day jail sentence if he didn’t reduce the size of the house and bring it into compliance with city building codes – or demolish it – within the three years of probation the judge also imposed.
In addition, he was fined $3,000, ordered to pay $14,191 in fees to LA city, and serve 200 hours of community service.
A few months after Hadid’s criminal convictions and sentences, his neighbors – unhappy with what they saw as a slap on the wrist from the criminal court – filed the civil lawsuit against him that’s finally about to be decided.