Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day eleven wrap, part one.

It seems odd to say this, but: we're pretty much done. With this round of litigation anyway. On Monday, lawyers for Frank and Jamie McCourt buzzed through six witnesses. Consider that it took six days just to get through Frank McCourt and Larry Silverstein (combined). For those who have been in the courtroom for the majority of the trial, the day was, at least, a refreshing change of pace.

The first witnesses of the morning were called by Frank to support his claim that Jamie was nervous about the riskiness of the Dodgers acquisition, and that she drove the creation of the MPA. Robert Leib, a consultant to entities in sports business, was engaged by Frank McCourt in 2001. He helped with bids for the Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers. He claimed to have discussed community property with Jamie on two occasions, and that Jamie explained that they held assets in a way that protected her nest egg but also allowed him to engage in risky ventures. The Dodgers, Leib explained, had been able to sell just 11 of 36 suites in 2003, and that was just one example of the risks associated with the purchase.

Next came Corey Busch, another consultant in the sports business arena. Busch testified that Jamie expressed concerns about protecting her own assets. She refused to sign any indemnity agreement or personal guarantee related to the couple's acquisition of the Dodgers. "She really wanted to be separate from the deal," Busch said. She expressed those feelings in very public settings, leading Busch to conclude "this really was an issue between Mr. and Mrs. McCourt," and he noted that "a number of us were really taken aback" by the public tension. She had an interest in a management role, according to Busch, but not in personal ownership.

Jamie's attorneys cross-examined Leib and Busch using similar approaches. They noted that Frank McCourt was paying each witness' travel costs incurred in testifying. Leib never took any notes of his conversations with Jamie concerning community property, and he didn't display anything approaching expert-level competence in the relevant legal concepts. Leib testified that Jamie never mentioned divorce, and that Jamie never said the Dodgers acquisition was too risky.

On cross, Jamie's attorneys noted that Corey Busch wrote Frank last November offering his support in any way he might be helpful. Jamie's attorneys clearly wanted to characterize this communication as an offer to testify to Frank's side, but this backfired a bit when Busch explained his reasons for the note: he had heard about Jamie's affair with Jeff Fuller and felt sympathy for his friend, Frank. Busch also said "there was clearly risk involved" with the transaction, though, when deposed, he characterized the acquisition as not "very risky."

The four remaining witnesses of the day were two former Bingham McCutchen attorneys, Aaftab Esmail and Reynolds Cafferata, and two people close to McCourt finances, Peter Wilhelm and Jeff Ingram. We'll get to them in a bit.

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