BY LINDA DEUTSCH AND TAMI ABDOLLAH, ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An attorney for Shelly Sterling went to probate court Wednesday to seek an emergency hearing to confirm her authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers despite opposition from her estranged husband, Donald Sterling.
Representatives of Donald Sterling, potential buyer Steve Ballmer and the NBA were present at the courthouse. Paperwork was filed but it was unclear whether an immediate hearing would be granted.
The Sterlings were not present.
Shelly Sterling contends she is the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the team. Her attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, said three doctors have filed reports saying Donald Sterling lacks mental capacity to be a trustee.
“I just want to resolve this as quickly as possible,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press in Miami on Wednesday, when he appeared at an NBA Cares event.
Donald Sterling said in a statement Tuesday that he’s not just fighting for the Clippers but taking a stand against the NBA, which he called “a band of hypocrites and bullies” and “despicable monsters” who want “to take away our privacy rights and freedom of speech.”
Donald Sterling is suing the league for $1 billion. The league has sought to ban him for life since racist remarks emerged in a recording in April.
“As I’ve said previously, if Donald chooses to litigate against us, so be it,” Silver said. “So it’s going to take longer than we had hoped for this transaction to close, but it’ll get done ultimately. It’s just a question of time.”
Shelly Sterling recently brokered what would be a record-breaking $2 billion deal with Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO, to sell the team.
The aim of Shelly Sterling’s court bid is to have a judge confirm provisions of the family trust to ensure the Ballmer sale moves forward without a hitch. Donald Sterling has the right to present his side at any hearing and appeal any decision.
His attorney Maxwell Blecher said a representative for Donald Sterling would be at any hearing, and that the main issue to be decided is whether Donald Sterling is mentally competent.
“There isn’t the slightest evidence he’s incapable of managing his affairs,” Blecher said. He said the next step is to have other doctors evaluate Donald Sterling.
“I have no doubt at the end of the day the court is not going to say he’s incompetent,” Blecher said. “That’s a very high burden in the probate court – otherwise people would get their sisters and wife and brother-in-laws and everybody declared incompetent.”