FRESNO -- On the steps of a Fresno courthouse, Gen. Charles "Chuck" Yeager talked about shooting down Nazi German planes during World War II, breaking the sound barrier in an experimental aircraft in 1947 and parachuting out of a free-falling supersonic jet after his pressurized suit caught fire.
He also talked about his latest enemy -- a Fresno law firm that has sued him for breach of contract.
"I would rather be fighting them in the air than stuck in this ... courtroom," Yeager, 91, said last week. "Nothing but a bunch of baloney going on in there."
The war hero who trained astronauts and still believes he can fly fighter jets is a defendant in a 5-year-old lawsuit filed by the oldest law firm in Fresno.
Wild, Carter & Tipton, founded in 1893, contends that Yeager and his wife, Victoria Scott Yeager, never paid for its services in a number of civil cases and have an unpaid bill of nearly $270,000.
The Yeagers say the firm was doing the work for free and have countersued Wild, Carter & Tipton for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.
The civil trial starts Monday in Fresno County Superior Court.
In an interview Thursday, the Yeagers described the case as David vs. Goliath. They are defending themselves, while Wild, Carter & Tipton has hired attorneys Marshall Whitney, Mandy Jeffcoach and Kristi Marshall of the Fresno firm McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth.
The Yeagers also contend they haven't gotten a fair shake from the Fresno court system.
Before Judge Kristi Kapetan was picked to be the trial judge, the case had been assigned to Judge Jeffrey Hamilton, who worked for McCormick Barstow in the early 1990s.
Victoria Yeager said Hamilton should have declared a conflict because his pretrial rulings have been unfair. Hamilton said Friday that judicial ethics prohibit him from commenting.
In a ruling in March, Hamilton ordered the Yeagers to pay the McCormick Barstow lawyers $7,740 for delaying the trial. The trial was continued six times when the Yeagers needed only one continuance, the judge said.
In addition, Hamilton closed discovery -- the time for gathering evidence -- which the Yeagers contend will prohibit them from presenting their case.
The Yeagers contend the McCormick Barstow lawyers also aren't playing fair. Thursday, they dismissed the General Chuck Yeager Foundation as a defendant from the suit. That's bad for the Yeagers because the lawyer representing the foundation can't assist them in their arguments.
As the trial nears, the Yeagers said one issue weighs heavily on their minds -- their request for a jury trial.