The Work

September 30, 2010 12:29 PM

Spotlight Falls on Bingham Lawyer Again as McCourt Divorce Trial Ends

Posted by David Bario

After eleven days of heated testimony, recrimination, and plenty of finger-pointing in all directions, the bench trial over Frank and Jamie McCourt's divorce--and their conflicting ownership claims to the Los Angeles Dodgers--finally came to end on Wednesday. 

It's been quite a show. 

We heard Jamie McCourt's lawyers, led by Boies, Schiller & Flexner's David Boies, accuse a Bingham McCutchen partner who drew up the couple's marital property agreement of scheming to strip Jamie of her rights to the team. 

We watched the embattled Bingham lawyer, Lawrence Silverstein, take the stand and admit to altering the 2004 agreement after the couple signed it to specify that the Dodgers belonged to Frank alone. 

And despite Silverstein's insistence that he was only correcting a "scrivener's error" and that Jamie wanted no part of the team, we saw him skewered in the courtroom and in the national press. The fact that a senior lawyer's admitted tendency to "garble the language" could decide the fate of a baseball team valued at more than $700 million left sports buffs and law junkies alike shaking their heads. 

The lawyers went at it one last time on Wednesday. According to the Los Angeles Times, L.A. divorce lawyer Sorrell Trope of Frank McCourt's team repeated his contention that Jamie never wanted the liability of an ownership stake in the Dodgers.

Frank's lead lawyer, Susman Godfrey's Stephen Susman declared Jamie "opportunistic" and accused her of trying to "ride whatever horse she has to the finish line." Jamie's lawyers, meanwhile, never let up on Silverstein's change to the marital property agreement. "How can you disregard Larry Silverstein's role in this case," asked Bruce Cooperman of Wasser, Cooperman & Carter. "He's the huge elephant in the room and will always be hanging over this case."

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Scott Gordon has said he'll rule on the validity of the property agreement within 90 days. The McCourts will return to mediation in the meantime. 

And Silverstein? We hope the Boston lawyer--who was reportedly paid $8,000 to prepare the agreement at the heart of the McCourt's divorce--is a sports fan. Like it or not, he's now part of baseball history.

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