Dodgers owner to take stand again in divorce trial

When Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt retakes the stand Wednesday, it will be the first time he has spoken at length publicly about the breakup of his marriage and what his intentions were when he and his wife signed a postnuptial agreement in 2004.

The validity of the pact is at the center of the 11-day trial in which a judge could decide whether McCourt has to share ownership of the Dodgers with his wife, who filed for divorce in October after nearly 30 years of marriage.

McCourt, 57, contends the 10-page document gives him sole ownership of the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property, while Jamie McCourt believes the agreement should be thrown out and those assets should be split evenly under California's community property law.

Sporting a blue suit with a powder blue tie, McCourt answered questions Tuesday from attorney David Boies, one of the nation's top litigators best known for challenging California's ban on gay marriage, as well as for defending Al Gore in the disputed 2000 presidential election.

Boies asked McCourt about Jamie McCourt's desire to keep her nest egg separate from the assets of her husband, a Boston developer who had several failed ventures before finding success and using his money to purchase the Dodgers. Their agreement calls for Jamie McCourt to receive a half-dozen luxurious homes, worth about $80 million.

"I knew creditor protection was very important to Jamie," Frank McCourt said. The marital agreement was his wife's idea and he wasn't looking for a quid-pro-quo deal, he added.

"I wasn't looking for something in return," he said.

Jamie McCourt's attorneys claim their client was duped by McCourt and a family attorney when the agreement was signed. They said six copies were shown to the couple in Massachusetts, but only three listed the Dodgers as McCourt's separate assets.

Boies asked McCourt if he had spoken with his wife or the family lawyer about not only getting Jamie McCourt the protection she sought from creditors, but also preserving her rights to the Dodgers.

"I was not aware of any such discussion," McCourt said.

"Did you ever consider that?" Boies asked.

"No," McCourt responded.

McCourt's attorneys have painted his wife as money-hungry once the Dodgers began to succeed on the field. It wasn't until mid-2008 that she made her intentions known that she wanted the homes in her name but everything else, including the team, to be held jointly.

McCourt has taken his jabs at his wife in court documents, saying she had an affair with her bodyguard-driver and the couple's spending habits had gotten out-of-control.

Earlier Tuesday, an estate planning attorney testified that she spent months drafting a new version of the agreement per the couple's request to make the Dodgers community property. Leah Bishop recalled McCourt directing her to fix the document.

Bishop said that despite a series of e-mails and letters exchanged with the couple and their advisers between August 2008 and early 2009, McCourt never expressed concern about sharing the team with Jamie McCourt until May 2009 when he sent an e-mail to Bishop.

Two months later, Bishop said she met with McCourt for more than three hours where he opened up to her about his marriage.

McCourt said his wife wanted to be part of his businesses after they moved to California from Massachusetts, Bishop testified. Once she was elevated to be the Dodgers' chief executive officer, he told Bishop that she was creating "stress" in the front office.

She added McCourt said he wanted to focus on his companies and thought it best if his wife wasn't involved with the Dodgers.

"He wanted her to do something else that occupies her time, and it wasn't the Los Angeles Dodgers," Bishop said.

© 2010 The Associated Press.

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