McCourt Divorce Trial, Day Four: The Billable Hours Mount
Day Four. The Dodgers are 7.5 games out of the wild card.
Dodger fans may have soured on Frank and Jamie, but they've got a friend in Judge Scott Gordon. By trying to speed this trial along, he's doing his bit to limit the billable hours that will be charged to the Dodgers when it's all over.
At the end of Thursday's session, Gordon asked Frank's lead attorney, Steve Susman, how much more time he expected to take questioning Frank on Friday. "A few more hours," Susman said.
That was the wrong answer. Gordon called everybody back to his chambers for an admonishment. There's only so much the judge can do, of course, with all these $1,000-an-hour sharks circling around.
And make no mistake. The meter is running. The marital agreement at the heart of the trial cost less than $10,000 in legal fees to prepare. I asked one lawyer how long it takes Frank and Jamie to consume $10,000 in fees during the trial. "It's gotta be minutes," he said.
The case has kind of an "Ocean's 11" quality, in that it's so crowded with star litigators that some of them are reduced to cameo roles.
For instance, take Sorrell Trope, the dean of the Los Angeles divorce bar. He's 83 years old. He saw Babe Ruth play. He's been doing celebrity divorces since the 1950s. (He told me Cary Grant was a "great client.") Point is, he doesn't come cheap. He has sat through the entire trial at Frank's side without saying a word.
During a break, some reporters asked Frank's lead counsel, Steve Susman, to clarify a point. When the trial resumed, Susman put the question to Frank on the stand.
At the next break, I asked Susman if he was taking suggestions. "Sure," he said. I asked him to ask Frank how much this is costing the Dodgers per hour. He didn't, but I'm sure we'll see the bill in due course.
The Fourth Estate also figured in the testimony on Thursday, as Frank sought to explain why some articles going back to 2004 referred to him and Jamie as co-owners of the team.
"With all due respect to my friends in the media, I can't control what they write. We all know that," he said, to some chortling from the press section. "Still trying to figure that one out."
"It was to harken back to the O'Malley days," he said.
Was that rumbling the jackhammers outside or was it Walter O'Malley rolling over in his grave?
"Corporate ownership, and this is no dig on Fox, but it wasn't great for the Dodgers," he continued. "It's not great for franchises in general. It was a nicer, more comfortable, warmer, way to refer to it -- as family ownership."
And how did that work out?
OK, so we get it. No matter what the media guide said, Frank always knew he alone was the owner. But he testified that he considered giving Jamie co-ownership of the team in 2009, because he wanted to save the marriage.
"I love my wife. It's as simple as that," he said. "She was trying very hard to convince me to sign these documents. She had put the marriage on the line. I thought about it long and hard and I decided not to sign the documents."
There was much debate among the press about whether he said "love" or "loved," with consensus settling on "love," because that's just the kind of weepy sentimentalists we are. Once again, though, Susman was asked to clarify.
"If he still loved his wife, we probably wouldn't be here," he said.
Full McCourt coverage:
Week 1 Wrap-Up:
Even more McCourt:
L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August
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