LOS ANGELES — Courtney Love covered her face with her hands, audibly gasped, and began to sob today in court, as she listened to a defense witness talk about how her late husband Kurt Cobain’s legacy had been mistreated.
It was the fourth day of full testimony in a defamation lawsuit against Love, filed by her former lawyer, Rhonda Holmes, after the rock star alleged in a 2010 Tweet that the San Diego attorney had been “bought off.” The man whose words had made Courtney Michelle cry was Canadian businessman Phillip Gross, who talked about a lawsuit he’d initiated against one of Cobain’s former guitar techs—someone who’d allegedly claimed that he’d had possession of the world’s largest collection of Kurt Cobain’s guitars. But just the thought of Cobain’s guitars and memorabilia being mishandled and misrepresented caused Love to sob.
Gross testified this afternoon that he had reached out to Holmes, Love’s then-attorney, but never heard back. One of his assistant’s, Cylena Smith, later reiterated this same assertion. “It was weird,” she told the court. “[Holmes] was so thankful for this information. She said, ‘I’ll pass this on to my client right away. I’ll be in touch with you.’ But we never heard from her again.”
The point of their testimony was to corroborate Love’s ongoing claim that Holmes had “disappeared,” thereby leading Frances Bean’s mother to think an outside agent had interfered in their working relationship and that perhaps she’d been “bought off.”
But the day began with brief testimony from Holmes, whose counsel, Barry Langberg, asked if she had ever taken a bribe or altogether disappeared on Courtney Love.
Holmes answered firmly, “Absolutely not.”
Canadian radio personality and music reporter Alan Cross, who’s interviewed Love several times since 1997, also took the stand today. “I have been a fan and observer of her career since the very beginning,” he told the court, seeming fond of Love. “Any opportunity I have to talk to her is most welcome. I enjoy her music, I enjoy her personality, and I enjoy speaking with her because she is always very interesting.”
Cross was called to testify because of his July 12, 2010 article for the now-defunct site ExploreMusic.com, “My Cupcake with Courtney Love,” quoted Love directly talking about her pending fraud litigation and her ongoing hassles in trying to prosecute the case.
“‘I’ve been hiring and firing lawyers to help me with this,’” Cross quoted the Hole frontwoman as saying. Then, the piece continued, “[Love] goes on to tell of a female attorney who has since stopped taking her calls because they ‘got to her’ after she mentioned something to Page Six of the New York Post. ‘She’s disappeared.'”
Though Cross didn’t name the “female attorney,” the prosecution argued that Cross’s piece—in conjunction with a 2009 New York Post article that named Holmes as Love’s attorney—made it obvious that Love meant Holmes.
Asked by Holmes’ attorney, Mitch Langberg, if the writer knew which lawyer Love meant, Cross said he didn’t—and that Love also did not specify. He inferred Holmes’ association from the New York Post article, but chose not to identify her in his piece. “I remember thinking, ‘I am not going to mention any names in this article because it could be too explosive and dangerous for me,’” he insisted. “I did not want to be dragged into any potential libel, slander, or defamation [cases]. But I made a link to the [New York Post] article so anyone could figure it out for themselves.”
A resident of Canada, Cross didn’t have to testify in this case, so the broadcast personality explained to the court why he’d chosen to appear. “Something I said and wrote is central to what seems to be a very important case in U.S. case law,” he said. “I want to be able to tell my side of the story rather than have it be interpreted by someone who was not there and did not write it.”
Regarding the Tweet at the center of the lawsuit, Cross insisted, “I can tell you, categorically, that I did not see it.”
Holmes’ family members also took the stand today. Her sister, Michele Leann Dempsey, stated that Holmes’ “lifelong goal and dream” was to be a lawyer, and after Love’s Tweet, the attorney was “very sad, she was hurt, she was concerned, and she didn’t really know how to handle it.”
Holmes’ husband Jeff Jenco corroborated Dempsey’s story. “Nothing in this world is more important to her [Holmes] than that [being an attorney],” he told the jury. After Love’s social-media accusation, Jenco said his wife’s health began to deteriorate. “I noticed her having a lot more tension—and she was anxious and pre-occupied. It was very bothersome to her the comments that had been made.” (He even said that his wife’s weight fluctuated because of the Tweet.)
The trial continues tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. PST.