Judge Elizabeth Allen White on Tuesday dismissed the battery charge against "Desperate Housewives" creator Mark Cherry in Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful dismissal trial against ABC.
"Obviously I am thrilled by the judge's decision," Cherry told TheWrap outside the courtroom, "but I am going to withhold further commentary until this matter is resolved completely."
The judge said Sheridan's claims did not meet the standard to proof for battery.
With the charge against Cherry dismissed by the judge's directed verdict, the focus will shift to Sheridan's claim that she was fired from the show in February 2009. She says it was retaliation for her complaint that Cherry had struck her in the head during a taping on Sept. 24, 2008. She is seeking $6 million in damages.
Earlier Tuesday, "mystery witness" Michael Reinhart was allowed to testify about emails that Sheridan's attorneys claimed showed an attempted cover-up of the actress' firing by ABC.
In an anonymous phone call to Sheridan's lead attorney Mark Baute on Sunday night, construction coordinator Reinhart claimed he had erroneously been sent an email intended for his superiors that referred to "a conspiracy."
The email, he said, referred to a computer purge of communications about the killing off of Sheridan's character Edie Britt.
Reinhart told the jury and a packed courtroom that he came forward because, "I was trying to bring the truth out."
Visibly uncomfortable on the stand, the white-haired Reinhart told the jury that he thought the email indicated "impropriety."
Asked by defense attorney Adam Levin why he had waited so long to come forward, he He said he feared it would have been "committing professional suicide."
But, he added, "It started gnawing at me … and it kept building up. I began losing sleep over it, and my conscience was bother me.
"I would have had to live with that doubt the rest of my life," Reinhart said.
But under questioning from Levin, Reinhart said he could have misread the email and that he didn't fully understand the meaning of the word "conspiracy."
Reinhart said he erased the email as soon as he read it because "it made me feel uncomfortable."
The judge granted the defense the right to conduct forensic testing of Reinhart's computer, but said they could have "half a day" because the case was taking too long and she was worried about losing the jury and a mistrial.
With closing arguments still to come, it appears the case will go to the jury on Wednesday at soonest.