Attorneys want appeal-proof ruling

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LOS ANGELES -- The attorneys for Shelly Sterling said Wednesday they will ask a judge to issue a ruling allowing the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to proceed despite pending lawsuits brought by Donald Sterling in both federal and civil court contesting his wife's authority to sell the franchise without his consent.

Pierce O'Donnell, the lead attorney for Shelly Sterling, said he would seek what would effectively be an emergency, appeal-proof ruling after testimony concluded in the California probate court case to determine whether she acted properly in removing her husband from the family trust which owned the franchise before selling it to Ballmer.

"We think we have overwhelming evidence from [interim Clippers CEO] Dick Parsons and Anwar Zakkour from Bank of America, that if you don't let this sale go through and meet the deadline for the sale, an incredibly valuable asset will fall like a rock," O'Donnell said. "If Donald Sterling stays on as the manager and owner of this asset, Doc [Rivers] won't coach, Chris Paul won't play, sponsors will stay away and TV ratings will fall. It is an urgent matter that this sale be closed immediately to Mr. Ballmer and restore some stability and, frankly, dignity to the NBA in Los Angeles."

O'Donnell cited section 1310 (b) of the California probate code, which allows the judge to approve the sale if there is imminent loss of value to the trust.

Such rulings are rare, however, and it is not clear whether the pending federal and civil lawsuits even would be affected by such a ruling. Donald Sterling's attorneys laughed off the notion that the Clippers were in such a dire state.

"The other day we were warned of a death spiral," his lawyer Bobby Samini said, referring to a phrase Parsons used on the stand Tuesday to describe the precarious state of the team's finances if Donald Sterling remained as owner. "I was very careful crossing the street and nothing happened yesterday. Maybe it's coming today, maybe next week. We'll see what Doc Rivers does. Because I don't see that's the way things are going."

Testimony in the three-week-old probate court trial concluded Wednesday with an Alzheimer's disease expert, Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, testifying that the results of the two exams performed on Mr. Sterling could have been affected by Shelly Sterling's presence during the exams. Having his wife present, Cummings testified, could have created stress that affected his performance.

Cummings also testified that it was not absolutely necessary for a doctor to inform a patient of the legal and financial ramifications of such testing, but said "honesty" and "trust" between patient and doctor was ideal for such cases.

Max Blecher, another of Donald Sterling's attorneys, tried to introduce Cummings' evaluation of Sterling -- in which he found he was mentally competent -- into evidence; however, Judge Michael Levanas said that issue was no longer within the scope of the case.

Blecher argued that the process of declaring his client mentally incompetent was "a ruse" because Shelly Sterling wanted to sell the team and her husband did not.

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