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Sonics Trial Blog

Seattle Times reporters Percy Allen, Jim Brunner and Danny O'Neil are filing updates from the courthouse throughout the day.

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June 16, 2008 11:11 PM

Day 1 scorecard... plus the moment you've all been waiting for

Posted by Jim Brunner

KEY WITNESS: Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels didn't look too smooth Monday when he was cross-examined by Sonics lead attorney Brad Keller (who lived up to his reputation as a tenacious trial lawyer). Nickels danced around questions at times, trying to avoid saying the words Keller wanted him to say. You got the impression Nickels would try to deny the sky was blue if that's what Keller asked. A couple times, Keller made hizzoner look rather foolish by cutting to Nickels' April 2 videotaped deposition in which Nickels admitted the facts he was now resisting on the stand.

BENNETT WATCH: The trial was interrupted Monday morning by the loud coughing of a spectator wearing a green Sonics T-shirt. Judge Marsha Pechman threatened to toss the man out if he couldn't stop. Bennett, sitting at the defense table, appeared to be nursing his own sore throat, and offered the fan a cough drop. The fan refused. The man, a yoga-studio owner from West Seattle, later explained that he thought Bennett's gesture was courteous, and only said no because he didn't think the lozenge would help.

He stopped coughing after Pechman's admonition.

[The Associated Press reports the coughing was a "stunt." (Sonics lawyer Brad) Keller "was like a steamroller," the man told the AP during Monday's lunch recess. "He had to be slowed down.'']

OBJECTION SCORECARD: Advantage Sonics. Pechman ruled for the Sonics on a couple of hearsay objections Monday. The first nixed introduction of a fairly innocuous letter from a sports-bar owner who wrote to Nickels about the importance of the Sonics. The objection seemed to catch the city's attorney, Jeffrey Johnson, off guard. Later, Pechman quashed the city's effort to introduce a 1995 video of NBA Commissioner David Stern praising the then-newly opened KeyArena. The city's attorney, Greg Narver, succeeded in one objection -- getting Pechman to rule that former Seattle Center Director Virginia Anderson did not have to answer a question about Starbucks dropping its sponsorships at KeyArena.

UP TUESDAY: After former KeyArena manager Jyo Singh wraps up, we get to the moment you've probably all been waiting for. Sonics owner Clay Bennett will be called to the stand. He'll be interrogated about his now famous "man possessed" e-mail of last April, which he says has been misinterpreted. Bennett insists it referred to his desire to keep the team in Seattle.

During his opening remarks Monday, Seattle's lead attorney, Paul Lawrence, gave a taste of what Bennett is in for Tuesday if he sticks to that story: "Let's see what the evidence will show that a man possessed did in the two weeks following this e-mail exchange. Mr. Bennett contacted the NBA to seek to relocate the team to Oklahoma City for the 2007/2008 season. He contacted Oklahoma City to reserve arena dates there for the 2007/2008 season. He announced publicly that the Sonics have little hope of staying. He meets with Brad Keller, his litigation attorney in Seattle."

"He was a man possessed," Lawrence continued. "I think the evidence will show he was possessed to get to Oklahoma City."

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July 2008

June 2008

Recent stories

Sonics attorneys focus on city's "poisoned well" plan
Bennett says Sonics could lose $60 million if forced to stay in Seattle 2 more years
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2007 "Poisoned Well" document (PDF)
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Clay Bennett and Sonics' court filing (PDF)


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Trial coverage from | Hope (still) springs in Seattle