The attorney for Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling,
called Sterling as the first witness in the trial, but the
80-year-old real estate billionaire, whose doctors have said he has
Alzheimer's disease, was not in court. "Mr. Sterling was supposed to
be here today," lawyer Pierce O'Donnell told Los Angeles Superior
Court Judge Michael Levanas. Levanas will decide whether Shelly
Sterling, 79, acted in accordance with the family trust that owns
the Clippers in ousting her husband as the controlling trustee
before striking a deal to sell the franchise to former Microsoft
chief executive Steve Ballmer for an NBA-record price. O'Donnell
said Sterling, who is expected to testify during the four-day trial,
was served a subpoena through his attorney earlier in the day, and
his counsel said that he would be in court on Tuesday to testify.
"He was called as a ploy just to show he wasn't there," Donald
Sterling's attorney, Gary Ruttenberg, said outside court. Sterling's
no-show came after a federal judge rejected his attorneys'
last-minute request that the trial be moved to federal court because
they accuse Shelly Sterling of violating her husband's privacy
rights by releasing his medical records.
STERLING'S NEUROLOGIST TESTIFIES
Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA in April for racist
remarks he made privately that were taped and published during the
Clippers' playoff run.
The real estate billionaire's comments imploring a girlfriend not to
associate with black people sparked public outrage and caused
sponsors to cut ties with the team while players considered a
Donald Sterling's attorneys say he was misled by his wife into
submitting to medical examinations that determined he had
early-stage Alzheimer's disease and could not handle business
[to top of second column]
The physicians' findings handed sole control of the franchise to
Shelly Sterling, according a provision in the family trust.
Neurologist Meril Platzer, who examined Sterling at his home and was
of the opinion he has Alzheimer's, testified on Monday that Shelly
Sterling contacted her out of concern for Sterling and the doctor
was not aware of trust provisions until later.
The sale to Ballmer has been tentatively approved by the league but
must be voted on by other team owners. The vote is scheduled for
July 15 - the same day Ballmer can back out of the deal if it is not
The NBA has said it could seize the Clippers from the Sterlings and
put the franchise up for auction if the deal is not approved by
Sterling, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, has also sued the
NBA and its commissioner, Adam Silver, for $1 billion in damages.
(Editing by Mary Milliken, Bernard Orr and Cynthia Osterman)
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