McCourt Divorce Trial: Steve Susman Goes On The Attack
Both are aggressive guys with appetites for big risks. Like McCourt, Susman went out on his own at a young age and launched into high-risk, high-reward ventures. Both have succeeded wildly, and so it's no surprise that they ended up together.
Susman's big moment will come when he cross-examines Jamie McCourt, which could happen later this week. On Tuesday Jamie is getting a preview of what she's in for, as Susman grills her estate planner, Leah Bishop.
In addition to being an estate planner, Bishop seems to be sort of a girlfriend for Jamie. In e-mails to Jamie, she tends to be extremely informal for a lawyer: "Don't stress out about any of this," she wrote Jamie in one e-mail. "Get a spring roll and be merry."
Jamie's lawyer, Michael Kump, led Bishop through her business relationship with Jamie, eliciting testimony highly favorable to Jamie's version of events. She also managed to make Frank seem like more of a jerk than we knew.
Frank was also keen for Jamie to find a project to get her out of the office and away from the Dodgers. "She thinks she can run the team," Frank is supposed to have said.
Overall it was strong, but there were some weaknesses. Especially notable was Bishop's tendency to share information only with Jamie and to leave Frank out of the loop. That would tend to undermine her credibility by making her seem partisan.
For example, Bishop suggested in October 2008 that Jamie consult with some of the city's top divorce lawyers. Of course, she didn't tell Frank about it. This was supposedly well before Jamie was contemplating divorce.
On cross-examination, Susman pounced. Leaning wolfishly over the lectern, he burrowed in on why Bishop would have referred Jamie to a divorce lawyer. Bishop said it was because Jamie needed additional help understanding her marital agreements.
"How many family lawyers does someone have to see in this town before someone can explain how a 10-page agreement works?!" Susman barked.
Susman has drawn some blood, but this is just the appetizer before he gets to Jamie. You get the sense that when Susman looks at Jamie, he sees a roast turkey.
Before we get to her, though, we get to see David Boies question Frank McCourt. That should come Tuesday afternoon, and it should be a treat.
Full McCourt coverage:
Week 1 Wrap-Up:
The Screaming Meanie
Even more McCourt:
L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August