Things took a turn for the strange in court today during Ellen Pao’s ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit against former employer and venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
The proceedings started normally: Kleiner Perkins called its last witness, partner Juliet de Baubigny, who testified that she never felt discriminated against during her time with the firm.
De Baubigny was actually one of those who brought Pao to Kleiner Perkins, and says that she often dealt with Pao’s complaints about their coworkers.
“I really saw her as a person who could take her talents and apply them well. But consistently from the beginning her interpersonal relationships were troubled with many partners at the firm,” de Baubigny said, according to a Re/code report.
She also testified that KP General Partner Randy Komissar had embarrassed her to the point of mortification because she’d shared an article from Goop, the news and lifestyle site started by actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
This testimony continued to help build the case for Kleiner Perkins, which has been trying to characterise Pao as a problem child who frequently clashed with her peers.
After de Baubigny’s testimony is when things got really weird.
Pao’s legal team called members of Kleiner Perkins’ legal team to the stand. But instead of a legal smackdown, Pao’s lawyers opted to quibble over the invoices for Kleiner Perkins’ expert witnesses.
“You don’t want us to see these numbers.” “You’re just playing games.” Pao’s lawyer to Kleiner’s lawyer about expert witness bills.
— Jeff Elder (@JeffElder) March 20, 2015
It was weird.
The confusion extended to the jury, as one member reportedly stood up and bellowed “What is going on?!” to big laughs.
There are two ways to take this weirdness, though: Either Pao’s team is making a last-ditch effort to show the jury how much Kleiner Perkins is spending on swaying their opinion — or else Pao’s team is bracing for defeat in light of the non-stop barrage of seriously injurious testimony.
If Pao loses this case, she’ll be on the hook for Kleiner Perkins’ legal bills. This case isn’t over, but it seems that Pao’s side may be losing steam. Earlier this week, Judge Kahn indicated he was leaning against letting Pao sue for punitive damages, which would be in addition to the $US16 million she’s seeking for lost opportunities due to alleged sexual discrimination.
Judge Kahn is expected to rule on punitive damages tonight or tomorrow.