This image was lost some time after publication.

The Sopranos creator David Chase, who once dismissed the series's fans as an unruly mob of closure-obsessed Tony-turncoats, has made the pilgrimage back to his old stomping grounds to testify in a federal lawsuit brought against him from a former judge who claims he was never fairly compensated for helping to create the now-legendary series:

David Chase, the creator of "The Sopranos," returns this week to New Jersey to testify in a federal case brought against him by a former judge who claims he helped create the HBO series and has never been compensated for his work.

Chase is expected to testify about the genesis of the Mafia series and its characters and, in the process, rebut [Robert] Baer's claims that he played a central role in the show's creation (Chase acknowledges spending a few days in 1995 with Baer, a former municipal court judge, discussing mob matters and touring wiseguy hangouts).

The lawsuit, filed in 2002, "limps into a Trenton courthouse," reports The Smoking Gun, with the presiding judge having already dismissed most of Baer's key claims. Still, there's apparently enough there to prevent the case from being dismissed outright, requiring the visionary showrunner to defend his creation—a story he's wanted to tell ever since early childhood, when family acquaintance Ruggiero "Richie the Boot" Boiardo would bounce him on his knee and ask if there was anyone in his kindergarten class who needed a roughing-up—in person.