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Sterling v. Sterling Part 6: MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

After weeks and weeks of analysis, we're here! We're finally here!

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, this is TwistNHook from SBN's Cal site, California Golden Blogs. We've been taking a ponder at the impending Sterling trial for the last few weeks. This is part 6 and here are the other first parts:

Part 1:  The Basics

Part 2:  Mental Capacity And The Law

Part 3:  Shelly Sterling's Filings

Part 4:  June 23 Trial Setting Conference

Part 5:  June 30 Trial Setting Conference

So, heading into yesterday's first day of trial, there was actually a fairly decent amount of confusion and drama.  This confusion and drama stemmed from Donald Sterling's last ditch attempts to delay the Trial.  He took two actions to delay the trial.

First, on July 3, he filed another motion to continue the trial in the probate court.  That was neither approved nor denied by the Judge.  It was moved to Monday, July 7, to be heard at that time.

DTS viewed this as insufficient, so then he filed a notice to remove the matter to federal court later on July 3.  What I took out of this was that many attorneys were going to be working over July 4 weekend.  They are the real victims here!

What did this federal court matter have to do with this?  DTS' health privacy rights have been violated and the federal court needs to step in:

Donald Sterling's attorney Bobby Samini denied the move was mere gamesmanship, saying, "We feel strongly that this important issue should be addressed by the federal court at this time."

"While it has become popular to attack Donald Sterling for his regrettable comments, his right to privacy and to the protection of his medical records should not be acceptable collateral damage," Samini said in a statement.

I had an opportunity to review Shelly Sterling's response brief and it seemed persuasive to me.  It argued a few things:

1. There was no federal question here.  DTS' attorneys never provided any reason as to why the health privacy concerns could not be resolved at the state level.  This is a California state Trust.

2. You have to bring the notice of removal at the first opportunity.  You can't litigate intensely for three weeks and then try to remove it.  DTS' health privacy was as violated on day 1 of this matter as it was on July 3.  DTS only brought the motion because he didn't like how the trial was looking.

3. DTS is not a defendant in the matter.  Only a defendant can apparently remove a matter, not a beneficiary to a Trust who is responding to a motion.  Technically, DTS is a respondent and although it may seem like a lack of difference between a defendant and respondent, there is a clear legal difference.

So, what ended up happening? DTS went 0-2 and even I got into the Twitter action:

Both the federal judge and the state court judge denied the attempts to delay the trial.

Sterling's attorneys alleged that his federal privacy rights had been violated by the release of his medical records, and the case should be adjudicated in Federal court. In denying his motion, federal Judge George Wu wrote that "to the extent that [Sterling's] medical records are relevant to the probate hearings, the probate court is more than capable of evaluating them and rendering a decision."

That is really the key language "relevant to the probate hearings."  Section 7.5c allows the medical records to be revealed to the extent that they are necessary to remove a Trustee.  Since Court action was seemingly required, it was appropriate for Shelly Sterling to include them in the Ex-Parte Application with the Court.

So, it took until the afternoon, but finally it started!


OK, so the first step was determining where DTS was.  Shelly's attorney called him as a witness, seemingly because he knew DTS wasn't there:

It's some gamesmanship to make DTS look bad.  Bottom line is that he is supposed to testify tomorrow:

Once that was over, we had the opening arguments.  Shelly's opening argument was brief, but DTS' was apparently 30 minutes long and bombastic:

Maybe they were hoping to delay the trial with an unending opening argument!  Either way, we had our first witness.  This witness is potentially the ballgame.  It is Dr. Platzer.  She was the first doctor to perform the capacity evaluation on DTS.  I've reviewed her evaluation report and it is very barebones.  It was hard to get info on what she did.  DTS and his team ran a smear campaign against her, saying that she couldn't be trusted because she went out for drinks with DTS afterwards.  It was very confusing.

During the testimony, the truth came out.  The evaluation took two hours and was extremely comprehensive.

Not only did this seem to really harm part of DTS' hope here, the actions of his attorney seemed to frustrate the Judge.  The attorney made a global objection to the Dr's testimony, which was overruled.  Then, he made individual objections to every single question!

Annoying the Judge is not a great way to win any trial.  So, the next question is about the drinks with Donald afterwards.  Just what happened there?  Apparently, more creepiness:

I feel like everything DTS and his legal team do is in blatant bad faith and ends up hurting them more than helping them.  They attempt to introduce a series of irrelevant factors and details as if people will just fall for them.  It appears that the Judge here is seeing through everything and it is going extremely poorly for DTS.  He got outflanked prior to the trial and now on day one, both of his attempts to delay failed.  His attorneys have apparently already frustrated the Judge and one of his chances to show a doctor acted inappropriately or poorly went up in flames.

Tomorrow should prove to be a true circus as DTS himself should be testifying.  If it is anything like his Anderson Cooper interview, it'll be rambling, insulting, and 100% media fodder.  He'll most likely do himself no service tomorrow and the circus will continue.  What are your thoughts on this?  Leave them in the comments and GO BEARS!