Sports Clippers

Donald Sterling dealt blow with judge's ruling on doctors' reports

Donald Sterling's Clippers sale case suffers as judge rules to keep doctors' reports on mental incapacity

A Los Angeles judge Friday rejected one of the central arguments Donald Sterling has used in hope of maintaining a voice in his family trust and stopping his wife's sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer.

Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said he had no authority to throw out the testimony and written reports of two doctors who in May found Sterling mentally incapable of continuing as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust.

Sterling's attorneys argued the findings of Dr. James Spar and Dr. Meril Platzer should not be considered by the court because both allegedly violated state and federal law by making their medical reports public.

Attorneys for Shelly Sterling had countered that both the Sterlings signed away their privacy rights when it came to findings of their capability to function as trustees. Levanas ruled that, even if he agreed privacy provisions had been violated, there was no precedent in California law for throwing out the doctors' judgments.

Shelly Sterling brought the case before the probate court in June, asking Levanas to validate her taking sole control of the family trust and selling the Clippers for an NBA record $2 billion.

Donald Sterling's attorneys will start its case Monday, though the judge Friday also sharply limited the testimony he could hear. He blocked the attempt to call attorneys for Shelly Sterling, who her husband says participated in a conspiracy to strip him of control of the team. Levanas said the attorneys would not be allowed to testify—because much of what they know is protected by attorney-client privilege and the rest could come from other witnesses.

Ballmer's attorney, Adam Streisand, asked the judge to make his ruling in time for the deal to be completed before an Aug. 15 deadline.

james.rainey@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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