Crime & Justice

McCourt divorce trial: Frank's turn at bat

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Frank McCourt took the stand today in Los Angeles in the divorce trial that could decide who owns the Dodgers.

McCourt didn't take the witness stand until late in the afternoon and only for a few minutes. He told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon that it was his soon-to-be-ex-wife Jamie’s idea to order up a post-nuptial marital agreement that would protect her assets from his creditors.

McCourt insists the agreement gives him sole control of the Dodgers; Jamie McCourt wants the judge to rule that they should split the Dodgers evenly as community property.

Earlier in the day, attorney Leah Bishop testified about her efforts to get the McCourts to take care of important legal paperwork. Bishop’s expertise is in estate planning. She did what estate planners do: she drafted a living trust intended to keep the McCourts’ assets out of probate if something happened to Frank or Jamie.

The living trust would have made all the McCourts' assets community property. But Bishop said Frank wouldn’t sign and the couple wouldn’t sit down to work out their differences. She said they bickered all the time. Bishop quit representing the McCourts a year ago.

The McCourts' dispute over who owns the Dodgers hinges on a post-nuptial agreement both signed six years ago, not long after they took over the ballclub.

The couple signed six copies of a deal to divvy up property, but they didn’t sign them together. Some copies say Frank is the sole owner; some say Jamie has an interest in the team. Judge Gordon will decide which documents are correct.

On Monday, Jamie McCourt’s attorney Dennis Wasser told the judge his client never intended to give up her interest in the team. “It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Frank McCourt’s attorney Stephen Susman said Jamie didn’t want to share the risks of owning a baseball team, so she proposed an agreement that kept several homes in her name in case creditors went after Frank.

When court reconvenes Wednesday, Frank resumes his testimony. The trial will last 11 days, but not in a row. Judge Gordon will hear testimony this week, then courtroom scheduling requires a two-week break.