By: Debra Opri – Attorney and Legal Analyst

Many years ago, I studied acting in college and appeared in a play called “Hello Out There…” It was basically a story of a young girl who felt emotionally trapped in the life she led in her small town; how she longed to get herself out of this ‘jailed’ life, and how she sought the assistance of a man who was locked up in the local jail behind actual bars, unable to free himself from the prison cell in which he sat.

I thought of this long ago play as I watched Kim Kardashian walk out of the Los Angeles Superior Court today. She looked ‘jailed’….’locked up’ as she walked ‘encapsulated’ between the numerous deputy sheriffs surrounding her. Her face was ashen, sad, and her eyes were that of a caged animal not knowing which way to go to break free of this lack of freedom as she walked forward in between the sheriffs’ deputies and past the cameras that surrounded her like prison bars.

Kim Kardashian’s failed settlement conference today must have been a blow to her and her ego. I separate the two because her eyes were that of a lonely woman trapped in a mess of a legal proceeding that doesn’t seem to end; her person was that of a celebrity superstar of the reality show world who was trying to decide: do I hold my head up and let them see I’m about ready to cry? Or do I smile for the cameras and make them think ‘all’s good’ in my world? Ms. Kardashian chose the former.

The days between now and May 6th will be tense for Kim, her ex, Kris Humphries, and especially the attorneys. Clearly, Kim Kardashian wanted this over. Clearly, Kris Humphries won’t – or can’t – let go. But between today and May 6th, the realities of trial preparation will be shocking. They will both learn that the paparazzi are now minimized, and their personal laundry – and secrets – are legally up for grabs in this public trial. For both, this is a trauma and a new kind of ‘reality show’ neither has bargained for.

Til now, both Kim and Kris have been playing ‘chicken’ with who would fold first and who would pay the demands of the other just to be done with this ‘battle royale’ of egos and secrets. For Kris, he has shone like a wounded dog who is determined to fight to his last ounce of blood is lost in this dogfight of a scorned ex. For Kim, she has showed throughout that she has the media on her side in her public relations campaign, and she has used it to the fullest. But for both, once the parties are sworn in and they both take the stand, their petty grievances, insecurities, and mostly the truth of what was the foundation of their once shortlived marital bliss will be revealed for what it was…..and the world until that time will hold their breaths.

From now til May 6, just a short three weeks away, both parties will be squirming for what each of them wants: a pregnant Kim Kardashian who wants her freedom without more angst; and Kris, his due…which apparently is a public thrashing of Kim Kardashian and her attempts to make a fool out of him. Kim has certainly met her match. Kris will not, as we now know, go away quietly.

So what do we expect in the next three weeks. The parties’ attorneys are preparing for trial gathering and organizing and prepping their witnesses and documents; organizing their trial issues, from the strongest to the weakest: all surrounding the issue of whether or not Kim committed fraud in inducing Kris to marry her without an intent to work at a marriage, but rather as a way of garnering ratings and money with the wedding. Kris has a high hill to climb in proving fraud. He needs witnesses and documents. The public may probably not really know what evidence he has; the media certainly is not favoring him. But would the media either be covering up the evidence that doesn’t favor Kim, or would they simply not know? Or maybe, perhaps, does Kris really have a strong case for fraud? Only Judge Goldberg will decide. There is no jury, and one man, Judge Goldberg will determine whether there was fraud. Risky business…for both Kim and Kris.

Risky, because if Kim wins, Kris pays a lot of money in attorneys fees, and he will be embarrassed more than ever with a ruling that he could not prove his case. Risky, because if Kim loses, a Pandora’s box of the reality show world she has thrived in these many years will come crashing down on her, and yes, it will be an expensive loss.

What else can we expect during these next three weeks? Everyone pushing for a settlement. This is where the most time will be spent. There will be extensions of the olive branch in the form of increased settlement offers, in my opinion, by Kardashian. If we are to believe what we saw when she came out of the courtroom today, she was devastated that this case was not over. And where was her attorney when she left the courtroom? No longer next to Kim Kardashian. And that’s a telling sign when an attorney does not exit a court with her client.

With the case settle? Will it go to trial? We will know over the next three weeks. It’s a battle of the wills at this point, and by the looks of it, Humphries is in it til the end unless Kim pays him his demands. At that point, maybe it will be over…If she doesn’t, it will be decided…by the judge. And neither party is usually happy when that happens.

So, to end my story, the girl who is trapped in a small town and the man she visits in the small town jail he is locked up in, frees him. He walks out of the jail, and then she is arrested and locked up for having released him. In the story of Kardashian vs. Humphries, I can imagine Kim Kardashian freeing Humphries from his small town world, only to find herself once she frees him, locked up for having helped him. Is this really the truest story of Kim Kardashian and Kim Humphries? Is there really any way out for either of them, after committing themselves to such a path as they have travelled together?

Maybe on May 6th or soon thereafter we’ll know. Maybe Kim and Kris will do the unthinkable: move away from the cameras, and into the shadows, such that they will go quietly into the night and settle their differences away from all the cameras and all the paparazzi that have only served to dehumanize them and their breakup. Perhaps, if both Kim and Kris do move in this direction, a settlement can be worked out. Perhaps a trial will, in fact, not be necessary after all.