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September 23, 2010 4:18 PM

Bingham's Dodger Debacle: Silverstein Plays Defense

Posted by David Bario

If there's one lesson that gets drummed into every lawyer's skull from the moment he or she arrives at law school, it's this: Be precise. And if you happen to be writing up a property agreement designating legal ownership of a Major League Baseball team for a mercurial married couple, it pays to be very, very precise.

If Bingham McCutchen partner Lawrence Silverstein didn't absorb that lesson before, we're pretty sure he's learned it now.

As we reported on Wednesday, Silverstein has been thrust smack-dab in the middle of the ongoing divorce trial of Frank and Jamie McCourt, accused by Jamie's lawyers of "fraudulently altering" the language of a 2004 marital property agreement in order to strip her of any rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Tuesday, Silverstein took the stand and admitted he changed the document after it was signed--without consulting the McCourts--to list Frank McCourt's sole property as "inclusive" rather than "exclusive" of the Dodgers. 

On Wednesday, Silverstein took the stand again. After Tuesday's suitably hostile and incredulous grilling by Boies, Schiller & Flexner's David Boies, Silverstein finally got to explain his actions to a friendly interrogator on Frank McCourt's legal team, Susman Godfrey's Victoria Cook.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Silverstein strongly denied that Jamie McCourt ever intended the document to include the Dodgers as part of her assets. He testified that the change he made was simply a correction to an error he had made in a draft of the agreement just before the McCourt's signed it.   

"Sometimes I garble the language," Silverstein said under questioning by Cook. 

Boies's response, according to the Times? "Give me a break."

Precision, indeed.

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The title to this article has it right: "Bingham Dodgers." It looks like Bingham has bought the Dodgers - or at least Bingham's malpractice carrier has bought the Dodgers. Has anyone checked out Silverstein's arm? Perhaps his curve ball is more "precise" than his drafting.

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