December 19, 2014

The McCourt Divorce: Up Close and Personal

As noted yesterday, today I ventured downtown to check out the McCourt divorce trial for myself.  Monday was supposed to be the “big day” with the cross-examination of Jamie McCourt being the centerpiece of the activities, and I would have to say that it lived up to my expectations.

Today’s proceedings began with David Boies finishing up his questioning of his client, Jamie McCourt, and  the remainder of the day was spent on the cross-examination of Jamie by one of Frank’s attorneys, Steve Susman.  Like most court proceedings, the testimony was at some times fascinating and at other times completely boring.

I’ll leave it to the guys that cover the trial on a daily basis (Josh Fisher and Bill Shaikin) to provide all the specifics of what happened and who did well, as I’m conscious that my opinions of what happened are skewed by the fact that a.) I’m not a lawyer and b.) this was my only day in court (so far).  That said, I did want to note a few nuggets that I found interesting:

– Jamie never read the Marital Property Agreement (also known as the MPA), nor the cover letter.  “I may have skimmed it, but I did not read it,” said Jamie.  “I trusted Larry (Silverstein, the attorney for both her and Frank).  I trusted Frank.”

– Jamie asserted that the McCourts discussed selling the team if things didn’t financially turn around within just a few years.

– The McCourts were focused on providing long-term security for their family, which was valued at $15 million per year, and wanted to set aside $250 million in the bank (Jamie thought this figure came from her business manager), but this never ended up happening.

– Jamie wrote notes on index cards every night, highlighting the day’s activities (the examples shown in court seemed to focus on social events, who attended various dinners, etc.).

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day for me was Jamie stating numerous times throughout the afternoon that she did not understand or comprehend various passages in the MPA and the corresponding cover letter.  She either genuinely does not know the legal terms that were reviewed by Steve Susman in court or this is all trial strategy, but I for one find it hard to believe that a woman as accomplished as she is could not understand the MPA.  Remember, Jamie was an attorney for 30 years (including several years working in the family law arena), earned a B.S. in French from Georgetown, a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, an MBA from MIT and was a visiting professor at the UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.  Jamie’s a smart cookie, right?  After all, I could easily follow along as Susman broke down parts of the MPA, and all I have is a BA in English/Professional Writing from a fantastic liberal arts university.

Besides the trial itself, it was very entertaining to watch the activities that took place in the hallway during breaks.  It’s here that journalists and attorneys mingle, share small talk and sometimes discuss the day’s testimony.  I also found it fascinating to watch the shifting body language of both Frank and Jamie as they entered and left court and huddled with their attorneys in the hallway.  Finally, it was great to finally meet both Molly Knight of ESPN, The Magazine and Josh Fisher of Dodger Divorce.  I really respect their writing on the trial, and it was fun to see them in action.  Also in attendance were Bill Shaikin and T.J. Simers from the Los Angeles Times, as well as several other writers that I did not have a chance to meet.

I’m going to try and get back to court tomorrow morning, so look for another court update by late-afternoon.  At the very least I’ll be blogging from the game tomorrow night, so check back in the evening for pre-game quotes from Joe about the Padres series and his remaining games in Dodger Blue.