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Bieber trial: paparazzo’s nickname at center of debate

The nickname of a paparazzo who alleges Justin Bieber kicked and punched him in 2012 at a Calabasas shopping center is now a point of focus as both sides get ready for the trial of the photographer’s civil case.

According to a lawsuit filed in June 2013 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jose Osmin Hernandez Duran alleges he tried to photograph Bieber, now 20, and the singer’s then-girlfriend Selena Gomez, as they went to the movies at The Commons in Calabasas on May 27, 2012.

Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers that Bieber “was enraged that (Duran) and other paparazzi had been photographing Bieber and … Gomez as they walked out of the mall and then as Bieber struggled to pull his huge van out of the crowded mall parking lot.”

Bieber “jumped and kicked plaintiff in the chest, punched him in the jaw and shoved him up against a parked car,” Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers.

Duran did not threaten Bieber and had a Sheriff’s Department media identification badge, according to the plaintiff’s court papers.

Although he is male, Duran’s nickname is “Bruja,” the Spanish word for witch, Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers. They argue that Judge Teresa Beaudet should preclude Bieber’s attorneys from making referring to the sobriquet during trial.

“The nickname is apparently related in some way to plaintiff’s appearance,” Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers. “There is no
evidence that plaintiff practices witchcraft or anything of the sort and the nickname has no relevance to the issues to be resolved in the instant case.”

Duran was born in El Salvador and Spanish is his preferred language, the suit states.

But Bieber’s lawyers counter in their court papers that other paparazzi stated in depositions that Duran is commonly referred to as “Bruja” and that therefore the nickname is relevant. They say Duran will not be hurt by the reference to it during trial.

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