Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forensic staple analysis and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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The unsinkable Molly Knight has been out-Dodger Divorce-ing Dodger Divorce of late. She has this gargantuan piece rolling out in the July 26 issue of ESPN The Magazine, and it's really everything such a write-up could be. I think her only real mistake with it was not just turning it into a book. But that's neither here nor there. One of my favorite gems she uncovered is this particular point of contention between Frank and Jamie's legal teams:

[Jamie's attorney, David Boies,] has four reasons to believe the MPA will be overturned. Susman has an answer for each.
"First off, I don't even believe it exists," Boies says of the MPA. "Or at least not the piece of paper they claim to have saying Jamie signed away the Dodgers." Boies contends Frank pulled a switcheroo on his wife, that the document he had her sign just before the couple decamped for Los Angeles didn't mention the Dodgers.
According to Boies, the two schedules (listing his take and her take) tacked to the end of agreement (following the signature page) were switched after she signed. [Frank's attorney, Stephen Susman,] says: nonsense. He's getting a forensics expert to verify that the original staples are still in place on the original document.
Surely running on fumes, Knight managed to update us today on the status of this skirmish:
Two forensic scientists -- one from each side -- determined that a document at the crux of the battle over Frank and Jamie McCourt's estimated billion-dollar fortune has not been tampered with, according to Stephen Susman, Frank McCourt's chief legal counsel.
[...]
The agreement was extracted from a vault at the Boston law firm of Bingham McCutchen and examined by scientists from each team in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Jamie McCourt's lawyers contend that there are six different copies of the document, and tests show that three of them -- signed at a different time than the other three, the lawyers said -- did not include Schedule A when Jamie McCourt signed them. Schedule A lists the assets Frank McCourt claims he is entitled to -- including the Dodgers.
Susman said the scientists found the document contained the original staple from 2004. In addition, an imprint of Jamie McCourt's signature was determined to exist on the page that names Frank as sole owner -- a potentially devastating blow to Jamie's chances of being given half the team in the divorce settlement.
"We've got the same staple and her signature on something she claims she never signed," says Susman. "Which proves all along she was not telling the truth."
Good grief. Nearly ten months and tens of thousands of words after we started down this path, we're fighting about staples. This melodrama has either taken a turn for the even-more-absurd or I have been seriously mislead about the gravity of forensic science by CSI and Dexter

I shouldn't dismiss this controversy so lightly. If Frank (or his lawyers) really did slip the Asset Schedule by Jamie during the post-nup's conception, that would be a big, big problem. But--even before considering modern science's contribution to the McCourt divorce--I think there's a major hole in that theory: if it was anywhere close to the truth, Jamie would have been screaming about it long ago.

You might remember that, in those heady days of the Summer of 2008, when Casey Blake was worth Carlos Santana and Manny Ramirez was some sort of cyborg sent to Earth to dominate National League pitching, Jamie started to make noise about revoking the post-nup. The couple's estate planning attorney's notes from a meeting from the then-married McCourts read in part:








SP stands for Separate Property and Exhibit A, unfortunately for Jamie, refers to the Asset Schedule she now claims was slipped by her in some sort of clandestine legal kung-fu. And it's here I see the biggest problem in her attack: if she had really been tricked, she would have known well before the divorce went down. Her legal team wouldn't have sat on what would have been its strongest weapon in the fight against the post-nup.


I've said all along I think Frank's in pretty good shape provided he didn't somehow deceive Jamie in the creation of the post-nup. I feel comfortable saying the same thing today. And now with the help of a team of crack scientists and a quick look into the post-nup's past, I'm still not convinced this was anything more than a bad bet on Jamie's part. 
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1 comment:

  1. Got to love the fact that Frank is borrowing money from family members and "business associates" to pay Jamie and his bills. Makes you wonder if his financial house of cards is starting to finally tumble. That, or he is going through some rather dramatic gyrations to fool the court.

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