David Boies, one of America's most celebrated trial lawyers, has joined the team of attorneys representing Jamie McCourt in her divorce from Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
Boies is perhaps best known for representing Al Gore before the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. This year, he asked the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to rule Proposition 8 — the initiative in which state voters defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman — as unconstitutional.
Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, declined to comment on Boies' role in the Dodgers' divorce proceedings. Boies also declined to comment.
However, according to Loyola Law School professor and legal commentator Laurie Levenson, Jamie McCourt's decision to retain Boies speaks loud and clear.
"It sends a message: ‘There's going to be a fight, I've got the firepower, and I'll take this to trial if I need to,' " Levenson said.
Boies has represented such clients as George Steinbrenner, NASCAR and American Express, and won at trial on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department in its antitrust suit against Microsoft. His biography does not list family law among his areas of practice.
"This may be about more than divorce," Levenson said. "This is about major business interests. That's why you would bring in a David Boies."
Wasser has told the court his side must unravel what he said were the "over 30 entities that Mr. McCourt controls."
The core issue for trial is the validity of a post-nuptial agreement signed by Frank and Jamie McCourt in 2004, granting him sole ownership of the Dodgers and other business assets and granting her sole ownership of the couple's residential properties.
Boies is expected to help Jamie McCourt evaluate how best to challenge the post-nuptial agreement. If the case proceeds to trial, he could participate in cross-examinations.
Marc Seltzer, an attorney for Frank McCourt, declined to comment on Boies' involvement in the case but indicated the agreement speaks for itself.
"The marital property agreements that Mrs. McCourt signed — not once, but three times — make it absolutely clear that Frank McCourt is the sole owner of the Dodgers," Seltzer said.
Wasser said there have not been any formal settlement discussions.
Marshall Grossman, the attorney representing the Dodgers, declined to address whether settlement discussions had occurred.
Bert Fields, another attorney for Jamie McCourt, said she would be "very resistant" to accept a settlement that did not include a share of ownership in the Dodgers.
"I don't think she'd make a settlement that doesn't give her half of the team," Fields said. "I don't think he's ready to make a settlement that gives her half of the team."
"Mr. McCourt will never agree to any settlement which changes the ownership of the Dodgers. The Dodgers are not for sale. Under Mr. McCourt's leadership, the Dodgers have had a winning team and that remains his focus and determination."