TRENTON, N.J. – David Chase was in federal court Wednesday to defend his role in creating the Emmy-winning HBO mob drama, "The Sopranos."
The case was brought by a former New Jersey municipal court judge who claims his ideas helped Chase come up with the plot for the show.
A jury of seven women and one man was selected to hear the case, which is expected to take five days. Two prospective jurors who said they were big fans of the show were rejected.
Chase, dressed in a black suit, sat at a table with his lawyers. His wife, Denise Chase, who is vice president of his production company, was also seated at the table.
Robert Baer, also a former assistant prosecutor in Union and Hudson counties, sued Chase in 2002, claiming he suggested a TV show about organized crime in New Jersey and gave Chase a crash course on the North Jersey mob. He wants credit and compensation.
A federal judge dismissed Baer's lawsuit twice, but those rulings were overturned.
The legal dispute centers on Baer's role in developing the show in 1995, years before "The Sopranos" became a cable sensation.
Baer claims Chase's ideas came after Baer arranged meetings with police detectives and other experts and escorted him around mob sites in the Newark-Elizabeth area.
Chase called Baer's claims "grossly distorted, petulant and self-aggrandizing," and said Baer provided a "modest service," arranging to introduce him to individuals who were experienced in certain facets of organized crime.