As the Dodgers play in Colorado during the final week of the regular season — perhaps trying to clinch their third consecutive National League West championship — Frank McCourt could be on a witness stand in Los Angeles.
The trial to determine who owns the Dodgers will start Aug. 30, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled Tuesday.
In balancing a crowded court calendar with the desire for a timely resolution of the Dodgers’ divorce saga, Gordon selected 11 days for trial, scattered over the course of a month. He set Aug. 30-31, Sept. 1, Sept. 3, Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-30 for trial.
Gordon would have 90 days to rule, said Lynn Soodik, a Santa Monica family law attorney. The court thus could announce who owns the Dodgers during the playoffs or World Series.
Frank and Jamie McCourt would be expected to testify during the trial and attend every session, Soodik said. In what could well be a showdown for the NL West title, the Dodgers play the Rockies at Coors Field on Sept. 27-29.
Frank McCourt could skip a court session to attend a ballgame but would be well-advised not to do so, said Santa Monica family law attorney Connolly Oyler.
“That doesn’t have a positive effect on the judge,” Oyler said.
The issue at trial is the validity of a 2004 agreement that provides Frank McCourt with sole ownership of the Dodgers and Jamie McCourt with sole ownership of the couple’s residential properties.
Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, said there have been settlement discussions regarding spousal support but no discussions regarding the issue of Dodgers ownership.
In seeking an earlier trial date, Marc Seltzer, an attorney for Frank McCourt, told Gordon, “There’s a crying need to remove the cloud of uncertainty.”
Frank McCourt had wanted the case over by opening day. The case now figures to last the entire season.
“It’s a distraction to management,” Seltzer said. “The team on the field is not affected in any way, shape or form.”
And, he said: “The case will be over before the World Series.”