It wasn't the usual day in court yesterday for Michael Jackson's defense team.
At roughly 2:35 p.m. PDT, right after court ended, the team wound up having a fairly public fight in the parking lot of the Santa Maria courthouse.
The reason was that lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. fired Brian Oxman from the team.
Oxman had come to the case as Randy Jackson's lawyer from previous domestic skirmishes within the Jackson family. But he had no experience in criminal defense matters, and often slept through crucial sessions in Jackson's child molestation case.
My sources say that Oxman — who'd been missing from court for over a week — had been told by Mesereau not to appear yesterday. Oxman ignored him, however, and showed up at the start of court.
When he tried to take his seat, Mesereau ordered him to sit with the public and not with the defense. Once seated, Oxman was then served with official notice that he'd been fired.
The result was a fight in the parking lot with Oxman screaming at Mesereau and associate Susan Yu. But this latest move should have come as no surprise to him.
Oxman — who was once suspended for a year from practicing law in California — got a rough start in the Jackson trial when he was publicly admonished by Judge Rodney S. Melville. Since then, he's been forced to sit behind the defense attorneys at what observers call "the children's table."
There's no official word on what Mesereau's breaking point was, but I am told that the senior member of the team recently discovered that Oxman had filed a number of papers in another Jackson case that contradicted much of the work Mesereau had done in the child molestation case. More on that as it develops. ...
Yes, that was Robert Redford himself dining at Il Gattopardo near the new Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
It would have been enough for most rubberneckers, but the appearance of Paul and Heather Mills McCartney tipped the whole experience over the edge.
Rob Thomas had a lot of hits with Matchbox Twenty, but the big news is that his solo album is a blockbuster.
"Something to Be" will probably enter the charts at No. 1 this week, with 250,000 copies sold. Mariah Carey will drop to No. 2 in all likelihood, but these positions could be reversed.
Anyway, congrats to Rob, who is certainly a popular figure on the New York music scene and a welcome addition to the pop rock world in general.
Tommy Ramone, the drummer on the Ramones' seminal first three albums, was guest of honor last night at CBGB Gallery in Manhattan. The occasion was a pre-party for the documentary "Punk: Attitude" which airs July 9 on the IFC cable channel.
I also spotted author Legs McNeil, rocker-writer Bebe Buell and legendary photographer Bob Gruen, whose show at the Morrison Hotel gallery on Prince Street in downtown NYC is a huge success.
Harper's editor Lewis Lapham debuts his own documentary, "The American Ruling Class," tonight at Tribeca's Regal Theaters at 6:30 p.m. EDT, followed by what looks to be a high-end party at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Expected and eclectic: Kurt Vonnegut and Jill Krementz; New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.; Robert and Kathryn Altman; Walter Cronkite; Vartan Gregorian; Bill Bradley; and, of course, Snoop Dogg.
Finally, Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld host a dinner at an undisclosed location for their pal, Ed Broth, author of the new St. Martins Press book, "Stories From a Moron: Real Stories Rejected by Real Magazines."
Jerry wrote the introduction to this hilarious tome. He denies being the pseudonymous Broth, as does Ted L. Nancy, author of the similarly inspired "Letters From a Nut" series. I've met Broth personally and he's worth his weight in bullion.