- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Actor Terrence Howard briefly took the witness stand Thursday in a divorce proceeding before a judge halted the proceedings so he can decide a legal issue.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Trent Lewis recessed the hearing until Friday morning to determine whether the star of the television series “Empire” can testify about communications he had with his ex-wife while a divorce settlement was being finalized in 2012.

Howard is seeking to overturn the settlement, arguing his ex-wife extorted him into the agreement by threatening to leak embarrassing information including a sex tape, video of the actor dancing naked in the bathroom and other recordings.

Lawyers for Michelle Ghent say she denied during a recent deposition that she attempted to blackmail the Oscar-nominated actor.

Howard began testifying about the settlement agreement Thursday afternoon before Lewis stopped him to try to determine the scope of his testimony.

Ghent’s attorneys contend that Howard cannot testify about any discussions the pair had during a four-month period between when the pair engaged in mediation and when it was signed.

Ghent has accused the actor of domestic abuse and said he owes her money promised in the agreement.

Audio of Ghent berating Howard and threatening to sell a video of him dancing naked in the bathroom was played for a judge Tuesday. The audio was recorded in 2011.

The pair were married in January 2010, and Ghent filed for divorce a year later. During his brief time on the stand, Howard misstated the date of their marriage, shortening it by six months before his attorney corrected him.

Howard received a best actor Oscar nomination for 2005’s “Hustle & Flow.”

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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