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June 16, 2008 7:45 PM

First day winners and losers

Posted by Percy Allen

Sonics attorney Brad Keller scored a lot of points during his opening statement and against Mayor Greg Nickels, who often stammered and stuttered while answering.

Keller is a wordsmith and the Mayor is not, which put Nickels on the defensive early into Keller's cross examination.

The Mayor was not forthcoming with simple admissions. Several times, he declined to concede small points to Keller and when Keller showed evidence to support his claim, then Nickels looked silly.

During one exchange, Nickels refused to acknowledge that KeyArena was antiquated until Keller showed him a 2006 city task force report in which Nickels said the refurbished building was outdated and in need of renovations.

Keller produced some of the day's best lines in opening statements.

He said that while Clay Bennett's Professional Basketball Club was in Olympia lobbying for a new venue in Renton, the city of Seattle was thwarting that effort. "The landlord response was, 'You either play in my sandbox or drown in red ink.' "

Keller said former Sonics president Wally Walker, Slade Gorton and Microsoft mogul Steve Ballmer conspired in a "bleed them until they sell" strategy against Bennett. The Sonics lawyer then painted a picture in which it appeared as if the city was in on the strategy while questioning Nickels.

The K&L Gates attorneys, who represent the city, stumbled early and often.

Paul Lawrence was unspectacular in in opening arguments, Jeffrey Johnson momentarily froze when Judge Marsha Pechman upheld an objection and didn't allow him to introduce a piece of evidence and Pechman admonished Greg Narver several times for speaking too fast and not being clear with his questions. Narver was also unable to submit a 1995 video clip of KJR host Mitch Levy interviewing NBA Commissioner David Stern as evidence.

The miscues by the K&L Gates lawyers is alarming considering the city will pay in excess of $1.1 million for their service.

Former Seattle City director Virginia Anderson saved the day for the city. She held up well under cross examination by Paul Taylor. Anderson refused to be bullied and appeared to have a firm command of the facts. Often times, she refuted claims with solid evidence.

Taylor abruptly changed his line of questioning a few times, which only made him look confused and Anderson appeared stronger.

The day ended with former KeyArena manager Jyo Singh being cross examined.

For those keeping score: Sonics 2, city of Seattle 1.

The Sonics attorney are hammering at the claim that KeyArena is an outdated building in desperate need of repair and the city failed to make improvements. The city also failed in four attempts to lobby funds from state lawmakers and both sides are better off disolving a dysfunctional marriage. Oddly enough, the Sonics attorneys did not use the "unclean hands" reference, however, they're trying to establish an unethical connection between the mayor's office and the Baller group.

The Seattle lawyers are establishing that Bennett and his partners are smart businessmen who knew about the lease and the building's deficiencies when they bought the team two years ago. They arguements are simplier. They asked Anderson and Singh about lease provisions for a buyout and each said that no provisions exist.


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Posted by brett

11:56 PM, Jun 16, 2008

I agree with you Percy, except I thought Lawrence was much more impressive with his opening statement than you did. He was very straightforward and narrowed his argument to the enforcement of the lease, while Keller was all over the map, pointing out how broken the relationship is between the two sides while using the "unclean hands" argument on the city's side. None of these things are relevant to the enforcement of the lease, and as long as the city proves that a financial settlement is not an adequate remedy, I believe they will win the case. Just because Keller talks pretty doesn't mean that his arguments will hold up.

Posted by geezer

12:08 AM, Jun 17, 2008

Please, nobody pay any attention to this post. From a lawyer's perspective, nothing written here makes a bit of sense. Sonics 2, Seattle 1? You've got to be kidding. Thankfully, that's not how the law works.

Posted by Edmund

12:57 AM, Jun 17, 2008

"Singh said the city had spent at least $5.5 million improving the arena in recent years at the Sonics' request creating a new family room for players' families and new clubs for high-end ticket holders. "

What the hell? Who approved this? Responsible party should be fired.

Creating a family room for players family when this money could have been spent on Pothole City, USA.

This is outrageous and insulting to KC taxpayers. What a bunch of ball. I have lost faith in this city's leadership.

Posted by jeff928

5:49 AM, Jun 17, 2008

Why didn't Nickels review his deposition testimony more closely BEFORE he testified at trial? His lawyers should have insisted on that preparation. Contradictory statements make you look non-credible.

You can be sure that Clay will be better prepared by his lawyers.

Posted by dblog

8:24 AM, Jun 17, 2008

All I want to know is the Judge going to take into account the fans who have no representation? We are accused of not supporting this team when clearly we have in spite of obvious efforts by the Sonics to thwart any support.

For once I would like to see justice for the little guy whose been used and abused by owners and the league.

We want our 2 years!

Posted by Bil522

9:30 AM, Jun 17, 2008

C'mon now it is hard for Nickels not to contradict himself....with a brain the size of a pea it is easily overloaded

Posted by Jo Jo

12:58 PM, Jun 17, 2008

LOL!!! Go Sonics! (to OKC!)

Posted by Jerome

2:02 PM, Jun 17, 2008

Shouldn't the title of today's story be "Homeless and Unemployed Gather for Pizza Feed"?

Posted by INIOX

4:35 PM, Jun 17, 2008

"Zimbalist admitted he had problems getting his testimony submitted in a Kentucky Speedway vs. NASCAR Association case.

The federal district court judge in that case characterized Zimbalist as a "hired gun" expert and said Zimbalist's approach "has not been tested and has not been subject to peer review and publication; there are no standards controlling it and there is no showing that it enjoys general acceptance within the scientific community."

Taylor asserted that Zimbalist said Seattle's weather has economic value and the economist agreed. The PBC attorney asked if going to church gives a community economic value and Zimbalist agreed. This line of question was an attempt to dilute Zimbalist's claim about economic value of a sports franchise.

At 4:03 p.m., Sonics and Seattle attorneys agree to extend testimony beyond the 4 o'clock deadline. It's clear now that Zimbalist is in town for the day and neither side wants him to return Wednesday. Judge Marsha Pechman grudgingly agreed to go into overtime."

What a nutcase. This is the guy the City hired?

And what the hell is Smith College?

Posted by DAWGONE in AZ

11:29 PM, Jun 17, 2008

Geez, totally agree IONIX....can't believe the City got a guy whose testimony was thrown out before.

Wow...way to do your due dilligence Mr. Lawrence.

Recent entries

Jun 17, 08 - 09:50 PM
Second day scorecard for the trial

Jun 16, 08 - 07:45 PM
First day winners and losers

Jun 13, 08 - 04:27 PM
Mayor Nickels will be the first to testify

Jun 12, 08 - 08:37 PM
Pechman lays out the ground rules

Jun 11, 08 - 11:09 AM
Sonics moved to Oklahoma in the D-League

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