Donald Sterling’s first testimony combative in Clippers sale trial

first_img“The more and more he did, the more you saw the real Donald Sterling,” Fields told reporters.Donald Sterling’s attorney, Bobby Samini said Sterling performed well, and that he wasn’t trying to put on a show: “That’s our client. That’s been our client for many, many years.”The Los Angeles Superior Court trial is set to determine two main points: whether Shelly Sterling followed the rules of the trust in ousting her husband based on claims on mental incapacity, and what the effects of Donald revoking the trust may be. It will also ultimately determine whether she can sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion without her husband’s consent.Donald Sterling — who will take the stand again today — rarely addressed those points on the stand.Sterling entered the courtroom a little after 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, in a black suit over a black-striped shirt, black sunglasses and black sandals. Even his hair, usually streaked with gray, was dyed completely black. He took the stand an hour later. In his first appearance in a trial that may determine ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, a combative Donald Sterling gave a packed room everything it could have expected.He sparred with noted attorney Bert Fields, calling him “weird” and a “smartass.” He accused doctors of being hired “guns.” He talked about how much he loved and trusted his wife Shelly, then said she “can’t learn anything” and was incapable of running their corporations.The 80-year-old billionaire even suggested the Clippers could fetch up to $5 billion in a sale, that the team’s next TV deal could match the Lakers’ and that he could win $9 billion from the NBA in his antitrust suit.Afterwards, Fields, who represents Shelly Sterling, characterized the 60-minute testimony as a further example of Donald Sterling being mean and out-of-control. During one line of questioning by Fields, Sterling perked up and said back: “Tell me what you want to accuse me of. Be a man. Stand up and be a man.”On another, he told Fields: “You’re wrong. You’ve been wrong on every question today.” That prompted Judge Michael Levanas to interject: “How can he be wrong if he’s asking a question?”Again to Fields, Sterling said: “Tell me where that’s relevant if you’re not just trying to be a smartass. What do my bank loans have to do with this weird lawyer?”Fields, 85, — once called “the most feared lawyer in Hollywood by the New Yorker — is known for representing high-profile entertainment industry clients like Tom Cruise and The Beatles.When he wasn’t busy belittling Fields’ questions, or asking Fields what his name was, Sterling usually said he couldn’t recall the answer.Asked about a June 4 agreement to sell the Clippers as announced by his attorneys, Sterling said he couldn’t remember whether Samini had been his attorney on that exact date.He also denied that he was opposing the $2 billion sale of the Clippers to Ballmer due to vindictiveness or ego — despite past statements to the contrary released by his attorneys. Rather, Sterling claimed he was doing so for “economic” reasons, adding that the team could fetch $2.5 billion to $5 billion later on. He also said a new TV deal could match the $3 billion agreement the Lakers struck with Time Warner.Sterling, who is banned for life from the NBA, suggested that he had been negotiating such deals for the Clippers.Less eventful was what preceded Donald Sterling’s appearance: testimony from Dr. Meril Platzer and Dr. James Spar, the two neurologists whose examinations of him cleared the way for his removal as a trustee.Attorney Gary Ruttenburg’s cross-examination of the two focused on a few main points: that they did not reveal to Donald Sterling the legal ramifications of his examinations, and that they did not have to obtain authorization from him to release his medical records. Ruttenberg said the trust did not waive California civil code preserving doctor-patient confidentiality.Platzer said she was not aware of the potential to oust Sterling from the trust when she first examined him. The first question he asked her: “Are you wired?”When he took his turn on the stand, Sterling accused Platzer of getting drunk at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and of never finishing the examination. Platzer had denied this when the trial started on Monday.Spar said he did not know the identity of who he was examining until he had agreed to visit. He also said he had not seen a copy of the Sterling Family Trust before sending his report to Shelly Sterling’s attorneys.Both doctors said that he was cooperative during the examination — though Spar said Sterling got frustrated at the “very, very end,” threw down his pen and left the room. Spar added that the examination was near completion anyway, and that his report would not have changed.Sterling said Shelly Sterling told him the tests were routine examinations done for his 80th birthday, and he didn’t realize the doctors were “adversaries, guns who were going to testify against me.” He said he only agreed to allow Shelly to negotiate a sale of the team because he erroneously thought she could keep a percentage of the team.Afterward, attorneys for both sides tried to claim the day’s victory, citing Sterling’s testimony as strengthening their case.Samini said: “Out of all the lawyers that were in that room, if I needed a lawyer, I’d hire him.”Fields’ take: “You guys can draw your own conclusions. Is this a guy you’d hire to sell hamburgers?”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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