[LA FEATURE]Sterling Firestorm

LA FEATURE

Coverage of the NBA's move to oust Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Judge Rejects Shelly Sterling's Request for Witness Protections

The witnesses will likely testify at an upcoming trial to determine whether Shelly Sterling acted properly when negotiating a Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A new audio recording containing more controversial remarks by Donald Sterling were released on Thursday. But so far the tape has done little to help Shelly Sterling in her effort to take full legal control of the Clippers. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, 2014. (Published Thursday, Jun 19, 2014)

    A judge rejected Shelly Sterling's request Thursday for an injunction against Donald Sterling and his attorneys after allegations that her legal team and doctors -- who claim the Clippers co-owner is mentally incapacitated -- received threats.

    The denial of the request comes as attorneys for Shelly and Donald Sterling prepare for a four-day trial to begin July 7 to hear testimony on whether she was within the guidelines of the Sterling Family Trust when she negotiated a sale of the team to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The trial will likely include testimony from the doctors about her husband's mental state, a key factor in whether his wife acted within her rights provided by the family trust.

    Citing voice mail messages that they claimed were left by Donald Sterling for the doctors, Shelly Sterling's attorneys sought the order to "prevent Donald Sterling and his attorneys from intimidating or harassing trial witnesses and counsel," said attorney Aaron Moss. Moss represents Shelly Sterling and another member of her legal team, Pierce O'Donnell.

    The voice mail messages were played Thursday in court.

    "(The request is) based on several voice mails he left last week for the two doctors who evaluated him and certified that he was incapacitated in accordance with the terms of the trust," said Moss.

    The filing claims that on June 9 Donald Sterling called O'Donnell, threatened lawsuits and stated, "I am going to take you out, O'Donnell." O'Donnell told NBC4 that he "will take that as a death threat."

    The document also alleges statements by Donald Sterling threatening the licenses of the doctors and a letter from one of his attorneys claiming the physicians are part of a conspiracy, the AP reported.

    "I don't think anybody can reasonably conclude that these are anything but the rantings of an unstable person," O'Donnell told NBC4 on Thursday.

    Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher told City News Service his client has a "short  fuse" and that the incident was merely a "blip on a much larger screen." Another Sterling attorney, Bobby Samini, told City News Service the  conversation mentioned in the filing between Sterling and O'Donnell was "not confrontational, but quite entertaining."

    "I don't believe that Donald has threatened anybody," Samini said. "(Sterling is) like anybody else who woke up and found out that their physicians had released their medical records."

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas ruled in writing that the statements cited in the petition did not "rise to the level of great and irreparable injury." The judge also commented that the case may involve "c and some litigation posturing" and he asked all parties to tone down their pretrial communications.

    The proposed $2 billion sale to Ballmer appeared to resolve the Clippers ownership saga, which began after an audio recording surfaced of Donald Sterling making racist comments and telling a companion not to bring black people to Clippers games.

    Sterling, 80, indicated he had agreed to the proposal, but announced earlier this month that he planned to move forward with a lawsuit against the NBA. The lawsuit alleges the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an "illegal" recording when NBA officials announced a life-time ban and substantial fine.

    It also claims the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale, which would require approval from other team owners.

    League officials have said they want a resolution as soon as possible.

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