McCourts' lawyer retakes stand
LOS ANGELES -- The embattled lawyer who prepared the post-nuptial agreement at the heart of the fight between Frank and Jamie McCourt for ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers retook the stand Wednesday after health concerns prompted the judge to excuse him Tuesday afternoon.
Under direct examination from Frank McCourt's attorney Victoria Cook, Larry Silverstein testified he explained to the McCourts in a phone call in March 2004 -- days before the marital property agreement was signed -- that if the couple executed the contract the homes would be Jamie McCourt's separate property and that the businesses would be Frank McCourt's if they ever divorced.
"Did you list specific entities within Frank's businesses including the Dodgers?" Cook asked.
"Yes," Silverstein said.
"And did Mrs. McCourt object to this?" Cook asked.
"Absolutely not," Silverstein said.
The agreement is at the center of the dispute between the McCourts and could decide who owns the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon must decide whether the pact is valid. He also could order the sale of the team.
Earlier Wednesday, Silverstein, an attorney for the Boston-based Bingham McCutchen law firm, testified he "did not have any certainty" on the issue of whether the Dodgers would have become community property had the McCourts moved to California without a marital property agreement.
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Silverstein testified Tuesday that the marital property agreement he drafted was meant to give Jamie McCourt sole ownership of the couple's homes, and make the Dodgers Frank McCourt's separate property. The couple signed six copies of the agreement.
Three of the six copies divided the assets the way Silverstein testified the McCourts intended, but the other three excluded the Dodgers from Frank's separate property. Silverstein testified that he corrected the three copies that gave Jamie McCourt claim to the team after they were signed and notarized because he believed they were made in error.
In afternoon testimony, Silverstein explained that he wrote the word "exclusive" in a draft of the agreement to reflect that the team and his businesses were Frank McCourt's alone.
"I garbled the language," Silverstein said.
While Jamie McCourt signed all six at the couple's Massachusetts home, her husband only signed three there and the remaining three a couple of weeks later while he was in California.
It turns out the three that Frank McCourt signed in California excluded the team as his separate assets. Silverstein said he doesn't recall switching those copies with wording that did include the team, but believes he did so shortly thereafter after he looked at company records.
In a pivotal exchange moments before Wednesday's morning recess, Jamie McCourt's attorney David Boies asked Silverstein:
"Having reflected on what you did, do you still think that it was anything other than an ethical breach for you to switch this schedule after it was signed and notarized without ever telling Jamie McCourt?"
Silverstein answered: "The answer is no."
Late Tuesday, a person familiar with the case who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about settlement discussions told the Associated Press that the two sides would meet in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Friday.
Last month, Frank McCourt's attorney Steve Susman said his client had offered Jamie McCourt an extremely generous amount of money but refused to disclose the figure.
The mediation talks were first reported by Yahoo! Sports.Information from ESPN The Magazine's Molly Knight and the Associated Press was used in this report.