Judge Won't Allow Attorneys to Testify in Clippers Trial - NBC Southern California
Sterling Firestorm

Sterling Firestorm

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

Judge Won't Allow Attorneys to Testify in Clippers Trial



    Sterling v. Sterling, Race Against Time to Sell LA Clippers

    In a blow to Donald Sterling's team, a judge, who will decide if Shelly Sterling can legally sell the LA Clippers without her husband's consent, denied their request to throw out testimony of the two doctors who found him mentally incapacitated. Kim Baldonado reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from downtown Los Angeles Friday, July 18, 2014. (Published Friday, July 18, 2014)

    A judge on Friday refused to order two of Shelly Sterling's attorneys to testify in the trial of her lawsuit to determine whether she has authority to sell the Clippers, saying the information being sought from them by Donald Sterling's lawyers can be obtained from other people.

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas also said he will not strike the testimony of the two doctors who found Donald Sterling mentally incompetent -- a medical determination that prompted Shelly Sterling to remove him as a trustee of the Sterling family trust and negotiate the proposed $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    Donald Sterling's attorneys maintained that lawyers Pierce O'Donnell and Laura Zwicker had information that could help them establish their client was lured into having the examinations performed without being told the actual reason.

    But Shelly Sterling's lawyers maintained her husband had an obligation to take part in the medical examinations.

    Levanas agreed with her attorneys that testimony on the topic could be provided by other people, including journalists to whom her lawyers spoke.

    "I think it's not appropriate,'' Levanas said of the motion to order Shelly Sterling's lawyers to testify.

    The judge also said the questions posed to Shelly Sterling's lawyers could end up in areas protected by attorney-client privilege.

    Attorney Gary Ruttenberg, on behalf of Donald Sterling, said the ruling will hamper his ability to present his client's side of the story and that the case was being ``railroaded on a bullet train.''

    "I can't do my job unless I've got witnesses,'' Ruttenberg said.

    Levanas denied a request by Ruttenberg to put the case on hold while he seeks a court order from the 2nd District Court of Appeal directing Levanas to allow the attorneys' testimony.

    The trial resumes Monday. Ruling on Donald Sterling's attorneys' trial witness list, Levanas said he will allow additional testimony from Shelly and Donald Sterling as well as another of the Clippers owner's attorneys, Maxwell Blecher.

    Ballmer's attorney, Adam Streisand, said the original July 15 deadline for his client to buy the team has been extended to Aug. 15. But he asked that the judge issue a decision as soon as possible after the trial so that the parties know where they stand at that time.

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