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Lawyer who changed Dodgers ownership papers challenged during testimony in McCourt divorce trial

In riveting testimony Tuesday in the Frank and Jamie McCourt divorce trial, her attorney relentlessly attacked the lawyer who changed an agreement to say that Frank McCourt was the sole owner of the Dodgers rather than the couple owning the team jointly.

Jamie McCourt's attorney, David Boies, displayed alternate drafts of the agreement, some of which described the Dodgers as “exclusive” of Frank’s separate property, not “inclusive.”

Boies asked Silverstein whether the word “exclusive” in those drafts meant the property in question was excluded from Frank’s separate property.

“They certainly could be read that way,” Silverstein said.

“Could they be read any other way, sir?” Boies said.

“It’s hard for me to answer that, because I know what the intent is,” Silverstein said. “I just miswrote it.”

Silverstein and Frank McCourt claim the McCourts intended to list the Dodgers as Frank McCourt’s sole property to prevent team creditors from seizing the couple’s homes.

Jamie McCourt claims she never intended to surrender her interest in the Dodgers. Boies wanted to know why Silverstein corrected what he said was an error without telling either of the McCourts.

“Who gets to determine what an error is?” Boies asked.

“I believe Frank and Jamie fully understood --" Silverstein said.

Boies cut him off.

“Who gets to determine which of the two versions is in error?” Boies said. “Is that up to you unilaterally?”

“No,” Silverstein said.

Boies said Silverstein had not notified Jamie he had switched the document to reflect what Silverstein said was the desired wording.

“Indirectly, I did,” Silverstein said.

He said he did it the day Jamie signed the agreements, March 31, 2004. At that, Boies thundered because Silverstein had said earlier he had made the change on or about April 20, after he caught the alleged error in Exhibit A and the agreements had been signed and notarized.

“On March 31, it’s your testimony you didn’t even know there were two separate versions of Exhibit A?” Boies said. “So, on March 31, you could not have told Jamie McCourt there were two separate versions.

“You told her all six copies were identical," he continued. "That was false, wasn’t it?”

Silverstein replied, “It turned out to be false.”

Boies has challenged Silverstein on several changes he made to his deposition, months after the fact. At one point, Boies cited Silverstein’s deposition testimony that he could not recall whether he was present when Frank signed three copies of the agreement in Los Angeles. Silverstein lives in Boston.

Victoria Cook, an attorney for Frank McCourt, rose to object.

“Mr. Silverstein has corrected his deposition,” Cook said.

“Ah!” Boies shouted.

Silverstein’s testimony could be critical to the ruling. Judge Scott Gordon, who scarcely interrupted during the McCourts' lengthy testimony, jumped in with questions for Silverstein all morning.

-- Bill Shaikin at Los Angeles Superior Court

Comments () | Archives (14)

If she didn't read the docs, what difference does it make on the version that she signed? It's what the intent was.

Silverstein is from a big shot law firm, but this looks pretty bush league. If you have different versions, you tell everyone (in writing) and get it straightened out asap. But as "kenbren" said, Jamie doesn't look very good either, a lawyer saying she didn't even read the agreement she signed.

SELL THE TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I fail to understand why this " Lawyer " is not up on charges. Even for lawyers this is pretty shoddy behavior. I thought one had to be elected to something in order for bait and switch to become acceptable.

The court should order the sale, split profit two ways, let them get on with their selfish lives, and let Los Angeles get someone to own the Dodgers who cares about baseball.

Sue the lawyer who showed gross incompetence!?

Free the Dodgers!

When the elephants dance, the grass is trampled.

Guess where the fans are located? Hint: they aren't among the dancers. And, taxes pay for the courts too. They aren't entertainment, they're working.

As a former Brooklyn Dodger fan (in my childhood) who was never able to forgive Walter O'Malley for moving the Dodgers to LA..until I went to college in Southern Cal and appreciated the marvelous facility and organization the O'Malley's built. In contrast to current ownership, Walter and his son, Peter (another fine baseball exec and 10 years senior to me), were such fine examples of responsible sports team ownership. The fans and players were foremost in their objectives. They were fine executives in any time. Is it any surprise the Dodgers were such a successful sports team....until the O'Malley's sold them? Dressen, Alston, Lasorda, Russell,...over 47 years, fine managers and owners who helped their team "do their job." Is it any surprise Joe Torre couldn't perform and is now bailing out? He's another "classy" baseball guy who has worked with some pretty "interesting" owners; Joe T really added significant value to any team he played for or managed. Like many contemporary owners, the McCourts used the Dodgers as an ego train and an ATM and did not operate the team as a business. When the McCourts moved to LA, it was Boston's gain and LA's loss. I now live in Boston. I sort of wish I was living in LA now. I'd plan to work with the leaders of LA, help you get your act together (maybe Peter O'Malley would provide some short-term guidance), and work together to create a diverse and soundly funded LLC to purchase, stablize, and upgrade the Dodgers. Good Luck.

Thanks to MLB for letting these clowns purchase the Dodgers in the first place. Took 20 years to get back to the playoffs and might take 20 more to get back at this rate.

It seems Mr. Silverstein convieniently forgot about whether or not he actually notified anyone of the changes he made to the contract. At the same time, Jamie and Frank are certain of the "intended" way the contract was supposed to be finalized. What is it going to take for MLB to stop this circus act, and admit that the McCourts are collectively unfit to run a baseball team in the major leagues? Instead of assuming that the McCourts had the proper means to purchase the Dodgers in 2004, MLB should be fully investigating the situation, and proving their inflated worth was a lie. They are going through this charade because they were attempting to hide assets from creditors back in 2004 because the purchase was based on their false net worth. Regardless of how this case is judged, the one glaring fact is the McCourts are going sue each other until the Dodgers are just an echo of their former greatness. Bud Selig, it's time to step up to the plate and do something now.

I'm no lawyer but I think if a lawyer switches docs, that's a bad thing.

I agree that Jamie has not appeared very sharp in all this. She has said that she signed this paper without fully understanding its contents because she trusted Frank and Silverstein. I'm sure she knows better now, but the question is is it too late?

When it comes to legal documents, "intent" does not matter. What matters is what's in writing. That's why everything should be put in writing in the EXACT wording that everyone agrees on. That is, the EXACT SAME wording in all copies. If even the smallest change has to be made, all concerned parties must be notified BEFORE the change is made.

Larry Silverstein -- and possibly his law firm -- could be in huge trouble if Judge Gordon throws the MPA out the window. And Frank McCourt will likely lose his shirt, not only to Jamie but to lots of creditors, probably including the IRS. I can't wait to see that.

Silverstein told her what the document said, and what it meant. Then he changed it after she signed it. He testified that it may or may not mean what he told her it said. This guy is going to be disbarred.

The parties shared an attorney; he had the same duty to each party. He violated his duty to Mrs. McCourt. In addition, it is against the law to alter a document after it has been signed and notarized. It doesn't matter if the parties didn't read it.

When he caught the "error", it was his duty to inform the parties that there was an error.

We don't know if he did advise the parties that they each should have their own attorney. If he did not, he should have. Certainly, when he discovered that they each say this area was in dispute, he should have told them they each needed a different attorney, and withdrawn, as he knew too much about the interest of the other party's case.

a lawyer who switched documents..no way,, my brother did same thing with my moms will and he got away with it..come to think of it,,mabye my brother works for that law firm

First sue the Dodgers for impersonating a baseball team.


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