Judge Sides With Shelly Sterling in Trial Over Proposed Sale of Clippers

A probate court judge sided with Shelly Sterling Monday in a trial to determine whether she had the authority to remove Donald Sterling from the family trust and strike a deal to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

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Shelly Sterling (C), the wife of Donald Sterling owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, watches the Clippers against the Golden State Warriors. (Credit: Getty Images)

The trial stemmed from a proposed deal brokered by Shelly Sterling in May to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

The deal was put on hold however while a judge decided whether Donald Sterling was properly removed from the trust.

Attorneys for Shelly Sterling claimed Donald Sterling was removed from the trust after two doctors found him to be mentally incapacitated, and that gave her the authority to sell the team.

Donald Sterling’s attorneys argued that their client was unaware of the nature of the exams and that he was still capable of running the team.

On Monday, Judge Michael Levanas sided with Shelly Sterling, stating that Donald Sterling was properly removed as co-trustee.

“This is going to be a good thing for the city, for the league, for my family, for all of us,” Shelly Sterling said outside of the courthouse afterward.

The decision allows for the proposed sale of the Clippers to move forward even if the ruling is appealed, CNN reported Levanas as saying.

The NBA issued a brief statement on Monday’s ruling: “We are pleased that the court has affirmed Shelly Sterling’s right to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer. We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.”

Shelly Sterling spoke enthusiastically about Ballmer, telling a crowd of reporters that he was the “best new owner” that could be found.

“I think it will be even better than it was before,” she said.

An attorney for Donald Sterling, meanwhile, said the side was “deeply disappointed,” with the result.

Another Sterling attorney, Bobby Samini, told reporters his client’s reaction was “very calm.”

“He didn’t see this as the final battleground,” Samini said. “So this is, you know, one stage of a long war.”

Sterling has filed a separate lawsuit claiming he is still the team’s rightful owner and demanded the sale of the club to Ballmer be blocked.

The second suit states Donald Sterling still has claims based on his control of LAC Basketball Club Inc., the corporation that owns the team, and the probate trial would only resolve issues pertaining to the family trust, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The uproar over Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers began on April 25 when TMZ posted an audio recording of him allegedly telling his girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring black people to Clippers games.

Sterling was allegedly upset because Stiviano had posted a photograph on Instagram of herself with Magic Johnson.

Amid the controversy over the recording, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life from the NBA and fined him $2.5 million.