Billionaire Donald Sterling was called to testify and took the stand in a California probate court trial Tuesday afternoon that is examining his estranged wife’s takeover of the couple’s trust that owns the Los Angeles Clippers.
Sterling described his wife as a wonderful person but she cannot run all the couple’s corporations, he testified Tuesday in a Los Angeles probate court. He opposes his wife’s takeover of the couple’s trust that owns the Los Angeles Clipppers and her efforts to sell the NBA team because he was in separate negotiations, he testified.
Wife Shelly Sterling was also in the courtroom Tuesday. During an afternoon recess, Shelly Sterling approached her husband, and he gave her a kiss. She cried and then left the courtroom. She later returned.
In the trial’s second day, the attorneys for Donald Sterling cross-examined a physician who earlier certified Sterling as mentally incapacitated. The questioning of the doctor stopped for the day when she needed to retrieve more of her notes.
Dr. James Edward Spar, a second physician who examined Sterling and also certified him as similarly incapacitated, also took the stand Tuesday. He was asked to send more documents to Donald Sterling’s legal team.
A judge in Los Angeles is hearing evidence on whether Shelly Sterling acted properly when she removed her husband from the couple’s trust, in which they equally own the NBA franchise.
Shelly Sterling is trying to sell the basketball team for a record $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but Donald Sterling is opposing the proposed sale. The NBA ordered the couple to sell the team after Donald Sterling made racial slurs against African-Americans in an audio recording.
Tuesday’s proceeding began with testimony from Dr. Meril S. Platzer, a neurologist who was one of two physicians who examined Donald Sterling and certified him as being mentally incapacitated and unable to continue as trustee. A third physician reviewed those findings and endorsed their conclusions.
Shelly Sterling took over the couple’s trust after doctors made the determination about his mental state.
Donald Sterling’s lawyers say he was tricked into the medical examinations. They also dispute the assessment that their client is mentally deficient. Late last month, another doctor found Donald Sterling to be mentally fit, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
In court Monday, Platzer said she examined Donald Sterling on May 19 and found he is suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s and may have had it for three to five years.
Platzer said in a May 29 certification that Donald Sterling has “an impairment of his level of attention, information processing, short-term memory impairment and ability to modulate mood, emotional liability, and is at risk of making potentially serious errors of judgment,” court papers said.
Spar, a specialist in geriatric psychiatry who examined Donald Sterling on May 22, said Sterling suffers “mild global cognitive impairment” and “the overall picture is consistent with early Alzheimer’s disease, but could reflect other forms of brain disease,” court papers said.
Under the trust agreement, if Donald Sterling became mentally incapacitated, he would be removed as a trustee, Shelly Sterling’s attorney said.
But the judge said he is not deciding on Donald Sterling’s mental capacity. Rather, the judge is going to rule only on issues of the trust and whether its procedures were followed correctly.