Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the mediator in the McCourt divorce case is going to propose “a fair settlement” to each side on Friday. The idea: this is a last chance for the McCourts to avoid the judge telling them how the Dodgers will be divided up. If they don’t settle as a result of this process the court will rule. And in my view, both sides should take a long hard look at settling because based on what went down at the trial, they both stand a chance of losing everything.
Personally, I had a hard time believing Jamie’s McCourt’s testimony. Contrary to what she said, I think she knew full well what she was doing when she signed the post-nuptial agreement that gave the Dodgers to Frank in exchange for her getting all of the real estate in the event of divorce. Everything about the document makes sense if seen in those terms and there’s no reason for the document at all if what she says is true and she was to retain an interest in both the team and the houses. That was the default. If she wanted things that way, the document has no real purpose. And that’s before we get to the part where she — the experienced family lawyer — tried to convince the judge that she had no idea what the document was supposed to do and was oh-so-confused about it all. Please.
But Frank has his own problems. Specifically, that business in which his lawyer admitted to changing the exhibits to the document after it was executed. I actually believed him when he said that it was all a simple mistake and that he was merely trying to fix it without anyone knowing, but courts, as a rule, don’t give lawyers that kind of benefit of the doubt. Nor should they, because if you start letting lawyers off the hook for this kind of stuff you’ll see all manner of “mistakes” that work injustices to people not as well-off and sophisticated as the McCourts. Regardless of Jamie’s dubious claim of ignorance, I think there’s a good chance that — on general principle — the judge rules that the post nup agreement is invalid. If that happens, community property rules apply, Jamie gets half the team and Frank spends the next several years (a) appealing; and (b) suing his old lawyer for malpractice.
But that’s just my gut. I’ve been wrong about this stuff before, as has been anyone else who tries to predict what a court will do in a tough case. But that also means that Frank and Jamie McCourt have no idea what the court will do either. And as a result, they’d be well-advised to take the mediator’s proposal seriously. Because this is the last chance hey have for this thing to end without a world of pain. Both for them and the Dodgers.