Testimony Ends in Trial Over $2B Clippers Sale
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling’s estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Shelly Sterling, who had testified early in the trial, was expected to be the final witness, but her husband’s lawyers decided not to call her back to the stand.
Instead, they called Dr. Jeffrey Cummings to discuss the protocol of examinations such as the ones given to Donald Sterling to determine his mental competency and ability to act as owner.
Most of his testimony drew objections from Shelly Sterling’s attorneys, and the judge said he didn’t see how it would help him reach a decision.
The trial will not be in session for the rest of the week. The two sides are scheduled to return for closing arguments on Monday.
Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas reminded Sterling’s lawyers that both sides had agreed not to make Donald Sterling’s mental capacity an issue in the trial.
Levanas said he was surprised when the lawyers made that move, and that he would have been interested in hearing about Donald Sterling’s mental competency.
Given that decision by lawyers, the judge rejected most of Cummings’ testimony and refused to receive the psychiatrist’s report submitted by the Sterling lawyers.
Outside court, attorneys for Shelly Sterling and Ballmer said that if they win, they will ask the judge to allow the sale to go through immediately in spite of any appeals that might be filed.
Sterling’s lawyers said they intend to seek an injunction to stop the sale if the judge rules against them. They have filed their own lawsuit in state court against Shelly Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league.
Shelly Sterling’s potentially record-breaking deal with Ballmer was struck after Donald Sterling’s racist remarks to a girlfriend were recorded and publicized. The NBA moved to oust him as team owner, fined him $2.5 million and banned him for life.
Sterling deputized his wife to negotiate the sale. But then he changed his mind and said he would fight the sale and spend the rest of his life suing the NBA.
Shelly Sterling went to probate court to ensure that the sale she negotiated with Ballmer would go through.
The trial was full of emotion and drama, especially for a probate-court trial to determine technical legal and financial questions.
Most of the fireworks came from Donald Sterling, who shouted at attorneys for both sides, denounced the NBA and its commissioner for trying to oust him from the league over racist recordings, and at one point called Shelly Sterling a “pig” as she left the witness stand.