Wednesday, November 3, 2010

After a decision.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon has had all the issues in the post-nup trial on the table for over a month now, and the parties filed their proposed findings several weeks back. While Gordon has until just about the new year to announce a decision, no one really expects him to stretch this out toward the deadline. Indeed, many--myself included--look for a ruling on the validity of the post-nup before Thanksgiving.

A decision could well serve as a catalyst for serious settlement discussions. The validity of the MPA is the greatest variable in the divorce, and taking it out of play gives each party a more certain position from which to negotiate. Whichever side wins on the MPA will try to play that victory as a trump card in discussions. The losing side will, in turn, seek to use the threat of additional litigation as leverage.

And it's the specter of continuing litigation which is both most vexing to fans and the greatest reason the parties will have to settle the thing. Both parties have likely already considered their strategy on appeal, and each can make noise about the next step in the litigation over the Dodgers. For Frank, it will be the way he purchased the Dodgers--with proceeds from an asset acquired before marriage. It's not great; if it was, it would have been his first bullet. But it's something, and it would cost time and money.

Jamie's next step would be the issue of support; even if the Dodgers are nominally Frank's, isn't he still obligated to pay her enough to support her marital lifestyle? And how would he come up with that cash? And Lord help us all if, as Jamie's lawyers believe might happen, we end up in another trial to characterize each and every of the couple's assets as separate or community property. That would take, well, if not forever, damn close.

The takeaway is that Gordon's ruling only ends this mess if the parties want it to. And they haven't shown any particular affinity for working together to this point. Maybe resolving the MPA issue changes that. But maybe their expected outcomes would still be so far apart that Gordon's decision still isn't enough motivation to put this behind us.

In the past, Frank had been unwilling to compromise in any way that would affect his control and the operation of the Dodgers. This would include selling off a chunk of the team or making long-term financial decisions based, in large part, on his obligations to Jamie. Losing on the MPA might change his mind on that, but still: any settlement that results in the sale of the Dodgers is no worse than a loss in all the litigation anyway, so why settle?

For this to end anytime soon, both Frank and Jamie McCourt will have to want it to end. They didn't last year, at least not enough, when they could have prevented much of the damage done by the divorce. They didn't again, at least not enough, when lawyers from each side met to discuss settlement multiple times in the months leading up to trial. And they didn't again, at least not enough, on the eve of trial, before it became the spectacle it did. From a fan's perspective, I hope solving the MPA is enough. I hope they settle, and quickly. I just don't see any reason, based on the McCourts' inability to work together over the last two years, to expect a clean resolution.


  1. Good insight, as always. Thanks for the continued posts.

  2. Josh- how much notice will the judge give before issuing a decision? Could it happen any time?

  3. Have to agree with your conclusion; not to expect these two to come to a clean resolution. Greed and ego do not make for rational negotiations.

    How quickly the worm turns. The Giants peak their pitching and their cast-off position players just enough to catch Philadelphia and Texas in a downswing, capitalize on opponent errors, and are never seriously threatened at any point during the three series, LDS, LCS, and WS.

    And the longer these East Coast carpetbaggers squander Dodger resources in Superior Court, the longer and more difficult it continues to be for baseball operations to reverse course.

    Seems like these two don't care if they take the Dodgers down with them.

    Perhaps the judge will see that the larger community interest, as well as those of the McCourts, will be best served by a speedy ruling on the MPA; as you suggest, before Thanksgiving.

  4. @E said, "Seems like these two don't care if they take the Dodgers down with them."

    I think most of the fanbase assumed that from the beginning of this mess, and some of us started to suspect it a few years ago when news blurbs of the McCourts' splendid lifestyle began to surface.

    They bought the team to finance their lavish lifestyle, not necessarily to win ballgames. Winning was just the icing. I remember thinking that Jamie had it wrong when she said once that her goal was to log four million fans. And when Frank announced his grandiose plans to develop the parking lot around Dodger Stadium, I remember thinking 'why doesn't he put all that money back into the product on the field?'

    Then there was all that stuff about all those mansions and all the frills like personal haircuts, and so on. When you buy a professional sports franchise, your ONLY goal MUST be winning. Most of your profits must be spent on the product on the field or court. Spending it anyplace else just doesn't make sense.

    And now Frank is determined to do absolutely anything, ethical or unethical, to keep his piggybank all to himself. If that includes dragging the team further, possibly into bankruptcy, he doesn't give a rat's ass. He cares only about his bank account and his other interests.

    Personally, I'd kill to see Frank hauled away in handcuffs for income tax fraud.

  5. Jeff from San DiegoNovember 11, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    You know Josh, the biggest loss for Frank and Jamie is what they have done to themselves. They have drug each other through the mud very publicly and seemingly without a second thought about it.

    Peter O'Malley was correct in saying that the McCourt's have lost all credibility in the community. However he was incorrect when he drew the circle only around L.A.

    Anybody want to partner up on a business deal with Frank? We have a grand picture of Frank now from what was revealed about his time while Dodgers owner, but what of the revelations of his past? Past friends who were business partners detailed the lengths he would go to screw over anyone who got in his way and the amount of time he would litigate to come out on top. If things don't go his way about the MPA it's going to be a long time before this ends.

    Anybody lining up to be Jamie's next Sugar Daddy? After everything that's been revealed about her, TJ Simers nickname for her, "The Screaming Meanie" seems rather tame and actually a little affectionate. At least if someone does hook up with her, he knows what firm NOT to go to to write up a pre-nup!

  6. Los Ducking Fodgers,, Had always been secretly jealous of how well they were run, and admit, not so secretly joyous about all of this circus. Part of me thinks that L.A. deserves all of this. Most of me knows that this is all just wrong, a huge mistake from the start that Fraud and Jill were awarded the team at all. And, what of Mr. Wolff in Oakland,,, says what about being Bud's bud?? This circus is bad for L.A.,, the N.L.West, the N.l.,, all of us who love the game and appreciate the temple that is Fodger Stadium are sad that this has no clear and immediate end. Wait, stop,, I.Will.Not.Feel.Sorry.For.Los.Ducking.Fodgers.. in my best Cpt J. T. Kirk,,,,
    love the reporting Josh, have been following for as long as it has been up,,, the pain is shared by all who love the game,, the competition should be on the field, not in the court,, am truly sad that the immediate future of the Fodgers isn't truly on the field

  7. Thanks Go. Your post truly oozes the sadness you truly refer to.

    Does anyone have a clue how season ticket sales are going?

  8. I'm not personally into "I told you so's", but I couldn't resist refreshing "Anonymous'" memory:

    Tony (me) on September 10, 2010 at 8:00PM- "The big signing will be Ted Lilly. Don Mattingley will be our manager,and Tim Wallach as third base coach."

    At 8:40 PM, Anonymous said...
    "Tim Wallach will not be a 3rd base coach, he's the #1 prospect in the PCL..."



    I don't know that Mattingly, Wallach and Lopes will be NUFF. I am of the belief that the games are won on the field by players.

    Does anyone have a clue how season ticket sales are going? Also, we another mediation attempt recently..... any news on that?

  10. For serious settlement discussions, a decision serves as a catalyst. MPA takes that victory as trump card in decisions and the losing side uses the threat of litigation as leverage.

  11. Seriously, we should all be singing the praises of our court reporters. No, not the newspaper reporters who cover the courts, but the certified shorthand reporters who make and keep the verbatim record. Where there is no tv coverage the public can view the hearing transcript for themselves, and here we ask the news media to do this for us. To get more info please visit