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Frank and Jamie McCourt appear at court hearing that highlights their lavish lifestyle [Updated]

March 29, 2010 | 10:58 am

With Jamie McCourt sitting on one side of the lawyers' table and Frank McCourt on the other, her divorce attorney Dennis Wasser spent more than an hour passionately arguing that his client deserved support to continue the lifestyle she had before the couple's separation.

Wasser didn't skimp on details of their extravagant lifestyle.

La-0329-pin01_l01zoanc "They lived in seven lavish homes ... they flew in private jets ... they had hair stylists come to their house every day. Every need, every want these people had was met," he told Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon on Monday morning.

Wasser suggested not judging them for simply having an outsized lifestyle: "It's not our province to say, 'That's too much, that's too little, who lives like that?"

Instead, he offered that this case was no different than any other divorce case, despite all the zeros, and he invoked the coming sundown start of the Passover holiday. Appropriating from the Passover Seder question "Why is this night different from all other nights?" he said, "I said to myself, why is this case different from all other cases?"

Me_l026ppnc While noting that the magnitude of the money and the number of attorneys involved in the case did make it different, he added that it was like any other divorce case.

"The same rules apply," he said.

Wasser took the court through a series of examples, seeking to refute Frank McCourt's contention that the recession had hit both him and the Dodgers. He said that Frank McCourt's side had suspiciously argued his net worth went down from "being a billionaire to about $163 million."

Wasser's argument was interrupted a few times, once by an outcry just outside the courtroom when a father found out he was being forbidden from seeing his daughter for five years, and once when Gordon received a request for a restraining order in a domestic-violence case.

[Updated at 11:32 a.m.: Sorrell Trope, Frank McCourt’s lawyer, launched a scathing indictment of what he called "Mrs. McCourt’s needs."

"It was attributed to Marie Antoinette," he said, "...that when she was told people in the streets were rioting because they had no bread to 'let them eat cake.'"

He called that famous line "insightful to this case itself."

While Jamie McCourt looked on calmly, he described how she used the seven residences in her name, residences that she says she needs money to keep up.

Trope said she had one Holmby Hills house she used for swimming, and another "is just a shack she uses to store furniture."

Trope said that Jamie lived in one Malibu residence, while using the home next to it “to do her laundry.”

He argued she could easily rent her unused properties and bring in what he estimated at $158,000 in monthly revenue.]

Both the McCourts were sworn in at the beginning of the hearing. Although they won't be testifying, Gordon is expected to ask them questions during the hearing. They each arrived at the downtown L.A. courthouse with a throng of attorneys and did not meet each other's eyes.

The hearing is expected to last through the end of Monday.

The larger, more incendiary issue -- which carries repercussions for Major League Baseball -- is whether Jamie is a co-owner of the Dodgers, as she contends.

-- Carla Hall and Victoria Kim in Los Angeles County Superior Court

Upper photo: Jamie McCourt enters Los Angeles County Superior Court in downtown L.A. on Monday morning. She declined to speak to the media members assembled out front. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Frank McCourt, second from left, and attorneys walk toward an underground parking lot during a lunch break in the McCourt spousal-support hearing. Credit: Ann Johansson / For The Times

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