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Estate planner testifies Frank McCourt 'wanted me to talk sense' into Jamie McCourt

August 31, 2010 | 11:08 am

An estate planner testified Tuesday that an agitated Frank McCourt went to her office in July 2009 and poured out his frustration with his wife, Jamie.

"He said she was lacking rationality," said Leah Bishop, who took the stand on the second day of the McCourts' divorce trial. "He said: 'She thinks she can run the team. That's a total disconnect.'"

The L.A. power couple are battling it out in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles over who owns the Dodgers. Frank McCourt, who says he is the sole owner of the team, is expected to begin his testimony Tuesday afternoon. 

Bishop is a key witness for Jamie McCourt because the estate planning lawyer said in an affidavit and testified Tuesday that both Frank and Jamie McCourt told her in 2008 they did not intend to separate their assets forever and wanted to put the Dodgers in their community property.

That is a crucial point for Jamie McCourt, who contends she is entitled to a share in the team. But after Bishop drew up new papers to commingle properties, Frank refused to sign them.

Bishop testified Tuesday that Frank McCourt told her he never understood why he and and his wife made an official agreement to separate their properties in the first place. But later, he seemed to want different advice.

"He said she needed sensible people...and he really wanted me to talk sense into her," Bishop said under examination by Jamie McCourt's attorney, Michael Kump.

"He said he needed her out of the office and he needed her to do something that would occupy her -- and it wasn't the Los Angeles Dodgers," Bishop said.

"He asked me, 'Did I do anything wrong?'" recalled Bishop. "I said he hadn't been very nice to her.... I had witnessed him yelling at her in front of other people and that was not a nice thing to do."

The conversation with Bishop took place two weeks after the date the McCourts said they officially separated.

Bishop testified Monday that at a 2008 meeting with the McCourts, she explained their postmarital agreement meant Frank McCourt owned the Dodgers solely, rather than the couple owning the team jointly.

"That's not what it was supposed to be," Frank McCourt said, according to Bishop.

Frank McCourt's attorney Steve Susman said McCourt would address the issue in his testimony.

"He said those words," Susman said. "It wasn't in reference to divorce. It was in reference to what happens when you die."

Jamie McCourt wants the agreement thrown out and the Dodgers declared community property.

She has been willing to cede control of the Dodgers to Frank McCourt, but the sides remained hundreds of millions of dollars apart on a settlement amount. The two sides apparently had no substantive settlement talks over the weekend.

The chances of a “settlement always get better as the case goes on," said Dennis Wasser, one of Jamie McCourt's attorneys. "Both sides get pounded, and they get tired."

-- Carla Hall and Bill Shaikin at L.A. County Superior Court