SBD/Issue 243/Franchises

Frank McCourt Takes The Stand During Day Two Of Divorce Trial

Frank McCourt Expected To Spend Entire Day
Today On Witness Stand In Divorce Trial

Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt took the witness stand in his divorce trial Tuesday, a day on which the "most riveting testimony shed light on the collapse of a marriage that lasted nearly 30 years," according to Shaikin & Hall of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt indicated that he "considered for months whether to sign a document that would have granted shared ownership of the Dodgers to his wife, Jamie," and ultimately said no on May 12, 2009. The couple "separated two months later." Frank, who is expected to "spend a full day on the stand" today, testified that he "could not recall many details surrounding the signing of the March 2004 agreement upon which he has staked his claim to sole ownership of the Dodgers." He did say, however, that he "had not demanded anything from Jamie as a condition of signing an agreement both sides have said was designed to protect the couple's homes from creditors." Shaikin & Hall note that admission "delighted Jamie's lawyers." Attorney Dennis Wasser, part of Jamie's legal team, said, "That's our whole case. He just said it." But Frank's lawyers contend that the couple "made a practice of segregating their business assets in Frank's name, and Jamie specifically declined to put any funds into the Dodgers or to join him in signing baseball's indemnity forms." Attorney Leah Bishop, who "drafted the proposed document," also testified yesterday. Bishop testified that Frank told her the Dodgers had a "dysfunctional structure" with Jamie as CEO and Dennis Mannion as President. Bishop, referring to her notes from that meeting, said, "He just realized she thinks she can run the team. ... He was fine with her being referred to as the most powerful woman in baseball, but not if she really believes it" (L.A. TIMES, 9/1).

ORDER IN THE COURT? USA TODAY's David Leon Moore notes Frank yesterday was "tight-lipped, stern-faced and showing little recollection for details about meetings and phone calls and documents, and his testimony looks as if it could be a bit of an ordeal for everybody." After the conclusion of Frank's testimony, Jamie will be called to the stand. The trial is scheduled to continue "through Friday, then recesses until Sept. 20 to give the parties a chance to discuss settling" (USA TODAY, 9/1). In L.A., T.J. Simers notes to "hear Frank's side, it's all about Jamie's nest egg and how she didn't want any creditors taking a bite out of it because her husband couldn't be counted on to be successful." To hear Jamie's side, it is "all about the changes made to their property agreement after it had been signed and notarized, thereby making it invalid and entitling her to half of the Dodgers." Bishop said, "As long as I had known them, they bickered constantly" (L.A. TIMES, 9/1). Also in L.A., Steve Lopez writes, "Frank was grim as an undertaker. Jamie looked as if she'd taken a gut punch" (L.A. TIMES, 9/1). FOXSPORTS.com's Mark Kriegel writes under the header, "There Are No Winners In McCourt Trial" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/31).

CHARITY CASE: In L.A., Dylan Hernandez cites a source as saying that the Dodgers Dream Foundation is "under investigation by the California attorney general's office for payments it made" to Senior VP/Public Affairs Howard Sunkin. The Dodgers issued a statement confirming that their official charity received a letter from the attorney general's office, and said the foundation is "cooperating fully with that office." Hernandez notes the charity was "sent requests for documents and answers related to how it paid Sunkin, who received more than $400,000 in 2007, about a quarter of the foundation's budget that year" (L.A. TIMES, 9/1). The Dodgers have said that Sunkin's pay in '07 "included a bonus and was a reward for three years of efforts to broaden the scope of the charity" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).

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