McCourt Divorce Trial, Day One: The Screaming Meanie
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thing that happened on the opening day of the Dodger divorce trial was that we learned the working title of Jamie's unpublished memoir.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?
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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:
Week 1 Wrap-Up:
Even more McCourt:
L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August