Court rejects Donald Sterling appeal in battle over Clippers ownership

Donald Sterling attends a Clippers game on April 21.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

An appeals court rejected Donald Sterling’s petition late Friday to stay last month’s probate court ruling against him in the latest round of legal wrangling over the proposed $2-billion sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer.

“Presently there is nothing for this court to review,” the order said.

The ruling capped a confusing and hectic 24 hours that left all parties back where they started.

Earlier Friday, Sterling petitioned the appellate court to stay the case and issue a writ to overturn the unusual 1310(b) order Judge Michael Levanas invoked last month when he ruled that Shelly Sterling acted appropriately in agreeing to sell the Clippers to Ballmer.


The order allows the franchise’s sale to proceed, regardless of any appeal by Donald Sterling.

“Once there’s a sale, you can’t go back,” said Gary Ruttenberg, one of Sterling’s attorneys.

After Levanas signed the final statement of decision in the probate case Thursday, Sterling’s attorneys believed that only the judge issuing a final order stood in the way of the Clippers’ sale.

That led to the urgency in the opening pages of Friday’s petition, accompanied by 10 volumes of exhibits, where the attorneys claimed the sale could be completed as soon as Friday.

“Once that sale goes through,” the petition said, “Donald will have lost a unique and irretrievable asset coveted by high net worth individuals around the world -- one of 30 NBA franchises in the country, and one that under Donald’s 30-year ownership has recently become one of the most successful.”

Instead, Levanas set aside his final statement Friday. In a brief written order, the judge noted that he misinterpreted a previous filing by Sterling’s attorneys to be their objections. They weren’t. Now, Sterling’s attorneys have until Wednesday, the original deadline, to file the objections.

Levanas’ vacating the final statement meant there was nothing for the appellate court to stay or rule on.

“The petition is denied without prejudice to re-filing at the appropriate time,” the order said.


Follow Nathan Fenno on Twitter: @nathanfenno.

Times Staff Writer Kim Christensen contributed to this report.