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Lawyer Apologizes to Court Over Profanity

If he had it to do all over again, Encino defense attorney Alex Kessel says he’d call prosecutor Renee Urman a “lowlife” in need of diet pills, but he’d leave out the four-letter words.

Kessel escaped being held in contempt of court Thursday when he apologized to Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz for using profane language in her courtroom. He apologized to the court staff, saying he didn’t mean to offend them.

To Urman, however, Kessel offered no apology. “I looked her in the eye and I told her how I felt,” he said.

Stoltz had summoned Kessel to argue why he should not be held in contempt for calling the prosecutor a name that included two separate vulgar words, and saying she “needs (expletive deleted) diet pills.”

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The judge and jury did not hear Kessel’s language during a trial earlier this month, but Urman and the court staff did.

After accepting Kessel’s apology and promise that he would not use foul language in her courtroom again, Stoltz dropped the matter. She did observe that Kessel’s mea culpa “was a little belated.”

Kessel argued that he was just exercising his constitutional right to express his feelings to Urman, who “has a way of provoking people. That woman can be quite calculating.”

Otherwise, he’s “always been a gentleman” in court, he said.

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But Urman “fired the first shot,” Kessel said--telling him to take a tranquilizer after he protested because she had a defense witness arrested in the hallway on an outstanding traffic violation.

During the trial, he said, she rolled her eyes when he cross-examined witnesses, said things under her breath and otherwise acted as badly as he did--except she didn’t use profanity.

Stoltz said, however, that Kessel, “aware of (Urman’s) reputation” around the courthouse, came ‘looking to deal a little street justice” and “beat her up psychologically during the course of the trial.”

Urman did not attend the contempt hearing and could not be reached.

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