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McCourt Divorce Trial, Day One: The Screaming Meanie

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Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 5:55 PM

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Day One. The Dodgers are 6.5 games out of the wild card.

About the most interesting thing that happened on the opening day of the Dodger divorce trial was that we learned the working title of Jamie's unpublished memoir.

According to Frank's lead attorney, Steve Susman, it was "Screaming Meanie: Babes, Baseball and Business."

That was T.J. Simers' nickname for Jamie, so does he get a cut of the proceeds?

Aside from that, the proceedings were a bit dry, as most of the afternoon was taken up with the testimony of Leah Bishop, an estate lawyer.

It'll get livelier tomorrow, when Jamie's lawyers intend to call Frank to the stand.

 

Substantively, the most important event of the day was Judge Scott Gordon's ruling in favor of Jamie's motion to exclude "extrinsic" evidence related to the drafting of the couple's marital property agreement. (More here.)

Outside court, Dennis Wasser, the silver-haired divorce lawyer who did most of the talking for Jamie today, seemed fairly giddy about that victory. In his interpretation, Gordon's ruling will be a one-way street: Jamie and her lawyers will still get to present outside evidence to attack the MPA, but Frank's lawyers won't be able to put on such evidence to build it up.

That sure sounds like an unfair fight, and it's not totally clear it'll work out that way. Already, Gordon has seemed to indicate that his ruling will cut both ways: Jamie could be barred from presenting extrinsic evidence, too.

Sorrell Trope, Frank's top divorce lawyer, argued that the ruling would end up being very favorable to Frank. If indeed it is enforced on both sides, it could be a win for Frank, but it seems more likely that each side will get to put on what it wants, providing each can demonstrate its relevance ahead of time.

It seems like Gordon's primary goal is simply to speed things along. In granting two motions to exclude testimony made by Frank, he seemed most interested in keeping the trial focused on the MPA issue, and in expediting the proceedings.

David Boies, Jamie's hired gun, said outside court that the trial was running ahead of schedule. At this pace, he said it might take only nine days, instead of the 11 days that have been allotted.

It still seems like the main event will be Jamie's testimony, which should take place on Wednesday or Thursday. Susman, a big bear of a fellow, seems eager to destroy Jamie's credibility on the stand.

Each side has their story to tell. Jamie's story is that she was duped by Frank and his lawyer, Larry Silverstein, into signing away her rights to the Dodgers.

Frank's story is that she didn't want any part of the risk of owning the team. There seems to be quite a bit of evidence to back that view, including notes in her own handwriting from conversations with a California lawyer.

"Jamie wanted total and complete immunity from the downside," Susman said in his opening. "But as Jamie knew full well, if you don't share in the risk, you don't share in the upside."

Frank contends that once it was clear that the Dodgers were doing well, Jamie tried to connive her way into co-ownership of the team. All of this will be hashed out in their testimony, so stay tuned.

 

Full McCourt coverage:

Day 11:

Wasser The Dealmaker Versus Susman The Carnivore

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

Day 10:

Dodger Execs Circle The Wagons Around Frank

Mediation Day:

A Long Day Ends Without A Deal

Day 9:

A Settlement Looms As Silverstein's Agony Ends

Day 8:

The Screwing of Larry Silverstein

The Return of Silverstein's Boner, In Which Two Interpretations Are Explained

Day 7:

Silverstein's Boner

Reynolds Cafferata's Dodger Dreams

Day 6:

Frank's Four Self-Defeating Arguments

Steve Susman Sharpens His Knives

Jamie Dummies Up

Week 1 Wrap-Up:

The Desperate Hunt For Exhibit A, Or, How To Blame The Conquistadors

Day 5:

The Return Of Vladimir Shpunt

Jamie Takes The Stand

Day 4:

Boies Puts Frank On The Run

The Billable Hours Mount

Day 3:

Nervous? Frank McCourt Blinks 75 Times/Min.

Screwing The Fans

Day 2:

Steve Susman Goes On The Attack

McCourt vs. Boies

Day 1:

Trial Opens With A Win For Jamie

The Screaming Meanie

Even more McCourt:

L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August 

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