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Clippers sale hangs in balance as trial begins

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The legal battle over whether Shelly Sterling has  authority under a family trust to sell the Los Angeles Clippers was put on hold  today, with Donald Sterling filing papers in federal court contending his  privacy rights were violated by the disclosure of his medical records to his  wife and the public.

A four-day non-jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court was set to begin  this morning to determine if Shelly Sterling had acted within her authority  when she negotiated a $2 billion deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO  Steve Ballmer.

But Judge Michael Levanas said he could not move forward with the case  in light of Donald Sterling's federal court filing, and delayed the case until  late morning to see if a U.S. district judge would weigh in on the matter.

However, attorneys for Shelly Sterling, who was in Superior Court this  morning, said they have filed a motion of their own to return the case to  Levanas.

Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, agreed with Donald  Sterling's attorneys that the trial could not start without a ruling from the  federal court, saying the case was in a ``procedural limbo'' for now.

However, O'Donnell said he was unhappy with the decision by Donald  Sterling's attorneys to bring the federal court motion.

``I must express our profound objection to this filing,'' O'Donnell said.

Attorneys on both sides agreed last week that the Superior Court  proceedings will focus on whether Donald Sterling was induced into undergoing  mental examinations by two doctors without being told the reason.

But there will be no rebuttal testimony from Donald Sterling's attorneys  challenging the findings by the two physicians that he was mentally  incapacitated, which his wife maintains gave her authority to sell the team.

The trial also will deal with whether Sterling's June 9 revocation of  the family trust had any impact on the proposed sale. Shelly Sterling's lawyers  maintain the $2 billion offer from Ballmer was already accepted by her and that  her husband's actions were meaningless.

Levanas had earlier denied a request by Donald Sterling's attorneys for  a short delay in starting the trial. Lawyers for Shelly Sterling and Ballmer  maintain that a ruling by Levanas is needed by July 15 so the NBA can consider  the proposed sale, in hopes of having the deal finalized by September.

Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life earlier this year  following the public release of recorded conversations between him and  companion V. Stiviano. Sterling is heard on the tape disparaging Stiviano for  having her picture taken with black people and telling her not to bring them to  Clippers games.

The league announced plans to take action against Sterling to force him  to sell the team. But Sterling has since filed a lawsuit against the NBA,  alleging violations of his civil rights. He has contended that he was recorded  illegally while making emotional remarks during a ``lovers' quarrel'' with  Stiviano.

 

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