LOS ANGELES — An attorney testified Wednesday in the divorce case of Jamie and Frank McCourt that he didn't tell the couple he made what turned out to be a critical change to a postnuptial marital agreement the day before they signed it.
Larry Silverstein said he discovered the "mistake" that excluded the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property from Frank McCourt's separate property while he was in McCourt's office March 30, 2004. He said he made the correction to an addendum to include the team as one of Frank McCourt's assets but didn't tell the couple before they signed the pact the next day.
"You did not say to anyone in words or substance that Exhibit A had been changed the day before?" asked David Boies, an attorney for Jamie McCourt.
"No," Silverstein replied.
The agreement is at the center of the dispute between the McCourts and could decide who owns the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon must decide whether the pact is valid. He also could order the sale of the team.
Lawyers on both sides are expected to go into mediation as early as Friday, according to a person familiar with the case who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about settlement discussions.
Jamie McCourt contends she deserves a part of the team, while Frank McCourt argues he is the sole owner. Earlier this week, she testified she didn't read the agreement which gave her estranged husband sole possession.
Silverstein was on the defensive for a second day after blistering questions by Boies. He testified Tuesday that when he gave the agreement to the McCourts to sign six years ago, a so-called drafting error that he made excluded the Dodgers as Frank McCourt's separate property on three copies, and three others that didn't.
In afternoon testimony, Silverstein explained that he wrote the word "exclusive" in a draft of the agreement to reflect that the team and his businesses were Frank McCourt's alone.
"I garbled the language," Silverstein said.
While Jamie McCourt signed all six at the couple's Massachusetts home, her husband only signed three there and the remaining three a couple of weeks later while he was in California.
It turns out the three that Frank McCourt signed in California excluded the team as his separate assets. Silverstein said he doesn't recall switching those copies with wording that did include the team, but believes he did so shortly thereafter after he looked at company records.
Silverstein said he didn't tell Jamie McCourt about the switch.
Once again, Boies wondered if Silverstein thought he had done something wrong.
"Do you still think it was anything other than an ethical breach for you to switch this schedule that has been signed and notarized without telling your client Jamie McCourt?" Boies asked.
"The answer is no," Silverstein said.
Silverstein said Jamie McCourt sought the agreement to protect her nest egg – several luxurious homes – from her husband's liabilities, which were estimated at $500 million in 2004, according to handwritten notes made by the attorney on one of the drafts.
"She never once said the Dodgers or any of his other businesses shouldn't be in Frank's column," Silverstein said. "She never indicated that she ever wanted to have ownership in Frank's businesses."
One of Frank McCourt's lawyers, Victoria Cook, asked Silverstein if Jamie McCourt ever indicated to him that she wanted the Dodgers to be community property.
"Absolutely not," he said.