The divorce of Dodger’s baseball club owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie has attracted plenty of media attention, particularly now that the trial is unfolding in Los Angeles.
Some startling evidence has emerged with respect to the key issue in the case concerning the validity and enforceability of the marriage agreement signed by them. The marriage agreement sets out two categories of property to be considered upon the breakdown of their marriage: community property to be shared between them and separate property to be retained by each of the spouses with no claim by the other.
The lawyer who drafted the agreement testified this week that he prepared six original copies of the marriage agreement, all of which were signed by the parties.
Larry Silverstein, a senior lawyer from Boston, said after the agreements were signed he realized he had made an error in drafting the agreement. He said the agreement inadvertently did not include the Dodger’s baseball club as Mr. McCourt’s separate property, so he amended the language of the agreement, after the parties had signed it, to include the baseball club on the list of property to be retained exclusively by Frank McCourt.
Cross-examination of Mr. Silverstein this week revealed he and Ms. McCourt had a telephone conversation just before the agreements were signed. Silverstein’s contemporaneous notes indicate she told him the baseball club was to be shared between them if their marriage did not survive. However, Silverstein insisted in court that Jamie McCourt only wanted to ensure all the family’s homes were her separate property so that creditors of her husband or the baseball club could not seize the properties if Frank McCourt defaulted on any of his loans.
Silverstein testified the next day he met with Frank McCourt who advised him the Dodgers were to remain his property if the parties divorced.
Apparently, however, the change was made in only three of the original copies, the remaining three copies retained the original language that provided that the ball club was community property to be shared.
Mr. Silverstein did not advise anyone he had tinkered with the agreement after it had been duly executed. In fact, the evidence shows that only after a forensic examination of the six original agreements did it become apparent three of the agreements had been changed.
It was the forensic revelation that prompted Mr. Silverstein to suddenly remember that he had changed the agreement. When asked if he believed it was ethical to amend an executed contract, after the fact, without advising the parties to the agreement, he said that in certain cases it was.
Silverstein’s cross-examination was adjourned because he was not feeling well.
It has been reported that the McCourts are likely to move into mediation this week and abandon the trial proceedings. It’s pretty easy to figure out why they would do this now. They have six originally executed agreements: three exclude the Dodgers from division between them and three provide that the ballclub is to be shared between them.
I presume they have been advised by their respective lawyers their better lawsuit is against Silverstein. His insurance company better get ready to write a huge cheque.
What crackerjack box did this guy get his law degree from?
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang