Southern California -- this just in

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

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

September 21, 2010 |  1:44 pm

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