Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Both McCourts expected to take witness stand this week

August 30, 2010 |  5:59 pm

The dramatic moments could come early in the Dodgers' divorce trial. Frank McCourt is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday, with Jamie McCourt to follow as soon as Wednesday, according to her attorney, Dennis Wasser.

"Mr. McCourt is sorry it has come to this," said his attorney, Steve Susman. "On the other hand, he's relieved to be finally getting the opportunity to tell his story.

"He will tell his complete story, the one he has been unable to tell. We're glad it's underway."

The trial started Monday, with opening statements from Susman and Wasser. The first witness, Los Angeles estate planning attorney Leah Bishop, testified that at a 2008 meeting with the McCourts, she explained that their post-marital agreement meant that Frank owned the Dodgers solely, rather than the couple owning the team jointly.

"That's not what it was supposed to be," Frank said, according to Bishop. Susman said Frank 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 wants the agreement thrown out and the Dodgers declared community property. She has been willing to cede control of the Dodgers to Frank, 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," Wasser said. "Both sides get pounded, and they get tired."

The trial originally was scheduled for every day but Thursday this week, with a two-week recess and then resumption through Sept. 30. But Judge Scott Gordon ruled that the trial would be in session every day this week to speed the case along.

David Boies, the co-counsel for Jamie, said he believes the trial could conclude by Sept. 20.

"Dodger fans should be hopeful; sooner or later the case will be resolved. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening in the near future," said Wasser, referring to post-trial proceedings both sides have said they could pursue. "I don't think we'll be done with this in September."

Wasser said he was not sure what would happen to the Dodgers if Gordon rules that the team is community property.

"I don't think Jamie by herself can buy Frank out. I don't think Frank by himself can buy Jamie out," Wasser said. "There's a lot of activity in this town, with people stepping up and saying, 'I want the Dodgers.' That remains to be seen."

-- Bill Shaikin at Los Angeles Superior Court