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Clippers’ Sterling Can’t Call Wife’s Lawyers to Testify

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- Donald Sterling, trying to stop his wife’s sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, can’t force her lawyers to testify about their communications with the doctors who found him mentally incapacitated, a judge said.

It would be highly unfavorable to Shelly Sterling to have her lawyers questioned by her husband’s attorneys, California Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said at a hearing today.

Sterling, 80, claims his wife’s lawyers were in league with the two doctors who examined him in May and found him to be incompetent. His wife then had him removed from sharing control of the family trust that owns the National Basketball League team. She agreed to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

“I can’t do a job unless I get witnesses,” Gary Ruttenberg, Donald Sterling’s lawyer, told the judge, who refused to halt the trial for Ruttenberg to appeal today’s ruling.

The judge also ruled that he won’t throw out the testimony and the reports of the two doctors who Donald Sterling has accused of violating his privacy rights by discussing their medical findings with Shelly Sterling’s lawyers.

The trial resumes July 21 after a one-week break. Donald Sterling’s lawyer is set to call witnesses to support his claim that his wife had him fraudulently removed as a co-trustee. Shelly Sterling needs a court order that she has sole authority to sell the team as part of the sale agreement with Ballmer. The deadline for the sale to close has been extended to Aug. 15.

The case is In the Matter of the Sterling Family Trust, BP152858, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County (Los Angeles).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Federal court in Los Angeles at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at Peter Blumberg

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