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Hollywood attorney Bert Fields has been asked to cross-examine Donald Sterling to determine whether the Clippers owner is mentally competent.
Pierce O’Donnell, who represents Sterling’s, wife Shelly, will still be the lead attorney in the probate case examining whether Sterling lacks the mental capacity to run the trust that owns the team, but The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Fields will be involved in legal efforts to confirm authority to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
Fields — with Los Angeles law firm Greenberg Glusker — is the dean of entertainment law, having represented Madonna, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, the Beatles, and major authors such as Mario Puzo and Tom Clancy.
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At the center of the volatile court battle are reports from three doctors who examined 80-year-old Sterling and found he shows symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Earlier this week, Sterling’s attorneys reportedly told the judge that he was tricked into these mental examinations. If the case gets to trial, it’s possible that audiotapes featuring Sterling making racially inflammatory comments to a girlfriend will be introduced.
Donald Sterling has also sued the NBA for $1 billion, alleging that the league violated his constitutional rights, committed breach of contract and violated antitrust laws. In refusing to back down, Sterling has hired four private investigation firms to dig up potential dirt on the NBA’s former and current commissioner and its owners for the case.
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In court Monday, Sterling’s lawyers, Maxwell Blecher and Bobby Samini, said he is entitled to be examined by his own expert who would testify. They then insisted they needed a substantial delay in the trial because their expert is going to be gone for weeks speaking at a conference, reported the Associated Press.
O’Donnell said it was a ploy to stop the sale. If the sale isn’t completed by Sept. 15, the NBA could seize the team and put it up for auction, he said. “Delay is the enemy of this deal,” O’Donnell told reporters outside court. “Mr. Sterling wants to kill the deal.”
Fields previously represented former Dodger owner Frank McCourt‘s wife, Jamie McCourt.
Another hearing for the Sterling case is scheduled for Monday.
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