08/30/10 11:06 PM ET
McCourt trial begins in Los Angeles
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Steve Susman, an attorney for Frank McCourt, explained in his opening statement that his client is the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise, while Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, argued that she is a co-owner of the team.
The dispute appears to hinge on one document, a 2004 marital property agreement signed by both parties, that Frank McCourt and his representatives say shows he has sole ownership, whereas Jamie McCourt's side calls the document invalid and is attempting to make the case that she is co-owner because of a California law that splits community assets.
Wasser is contending that Jamie McCourt was deceived by Frank McCourt and one of his attorneys, Larry Silverstein, referencing six copies of the agreement, with three of them stating Frank McCourt is the sole owner of the team and three saying it is a shared asset.
But Susman countered that it was a "clerical error" and that the three copies saying Frank McCourt is the sole owner are the correct ones and that the other three were earlier drafts containing the error.
Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon will decide whether the marital property agreement is valid. The trial is scheduled for every day this week before a two-week recess, with the trial scheduled to continue through Sept. 30.
Frank McCourt is expected to take the witness stand on Tuesday, and Jamie McCourt could be on the witness stand as early as Wednesday, according to Wasser.
Both McCourts were unavailable for comment on Monday, but their attorneys spoke to the media after the first day of the trial.
"Mr. McCourt is sorry it has come to this," Susman said. "On the other hand, he's relieved to be finally getting the opportunity to tell his story. He will tell his complete story, the one he has been unable to tell. We're glad it's under way."
Wasser said that "Dodger fans should be hopeful" and that "sooner or later the case will be resolved," but he also was quick to note that a settlement is not likely at this point.
"Settlement always gets better as the case goes on, because both sides get pounded and they get tired, but so far I haven't seen the light at the end of the tunnel," Wasser said. "We all remain hopeful that the parties can walk away smiling, but so far, no."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.