LOS ANGELES (USA Today) -- Donald Sterling began testifying Tuesday at the probate trial vs. his estranged wife Shelly -- and it was not a pretty scene for the roughly one hour he was on the stand.
Sterling almost immediately in response to questions by Shelly's attorneys, said: "What kind of question is that? I'm talking about your question, all of them. I'm sure they will improve."
Matters were not helped by 85-year-old lawyer Bert Fields being hard to hear, and 80-year-old Donald Sterling a little hard of hearing.
Donald, still more combatively, went on. "Do you rely on CNN for your information?"
At that, Judge Michael Levanas, smiling, said: "Anybody here from CNN?"
Again in response to a question from Fields, Sterling said: "I don't talk to the NBA. I don't talk to your firm. I just talk to my lawyers."
The trial will continue Wednesday, with Donald Sterling back on the stand and back facing questioning from Fields. Sterling is arguing that his wife, who had him removed as co-trustee after two doctors examined him in May and concluded he is mentally incapacitated, could not unilaterally sell the team on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust because he revoked the trust on June 9.
Outside the courthouse after the session, Fields told news media: "All of you now know what Donald Sterling is. ... The more and more and more he gives the more you guys saw the real Donald Sterling."
But attorneys for Donald Sterling were very pleased with how his testimony went.
"I think Donald did an excellent job on the stand," said Bobby Samini, one of Donald Sterling's attorneys. "Out of all the lawyers in that room, if I needed a lawyer I would hire him. ... The claim that he lacks competency is a sham. It's absurd. That should become more obvious to all of you today."
What was obvious to all was that Levanas earned his pay, trying to get Fields and Donald Sterling on the same page in the trial that could lead to some resolution of the proposed $2 billion sale of the Sterling-owned Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
With Fields continuing the questioning in the courtroom, Donald Sterling was asked about the doctors who examined him in May on behalf of Shelly Sterling to determine if he were mentally competent, Dr. Meril Platzer and Dr. James Spar.
"I trusted my wife," Donald testified. "I didn't know these (doctors) were guns that were going to testify against me."
Again, as testimony became rancorous, Judge Levanas stepped in to try to make sense of Donald Sterling's meandering tirades: "If I strike everything, we're going to go backwards."
Donald Sterling, in-between angry challenges, got choked up talking about his estranged wife: "She's a good person but they (the NBA) are not good people."
Earlier, with the packed courtroom stifling hot, Judge Levanas, straight out of a scene from To Kill A Mockingbird, gave everyone permission to remove their jackets.
As Fields continued his questioning, Donald Sterling, a lawyer by training, turned up the volume: "I thought you were going to make me cry. Didn't you say that? Isn't that in your bio? That's so presumptuous for a member of the Bar."
After not showing up as the first witness called Monday, Donald appeared several minutes early Tuesday for the trial
At 2:20 p.m. PT, flanked by security, Donald Sterling, his hair almost as dark as the sunglasses propped on his forehead, arrived at the second floor of the Los Angeles County Superior Court wearing a dark suit.
He entered the courtroom and created a slight stir as he headed to the front row and took a seat. He smiled and exchanged pleasantries with a woman sitting to his right with testimony underway.
During a break, Shelly walked over to Donald and said hello. They appeared to exchange pleasantries and he kissed her on the hand.
Donald was not in court Monday when Shelly Sterling's attorney called him as his first witness. Donald's attorney Samini told Judge Levanas that Donald was not there because they thought it would take longer for a ruling on his attempt to move the case to federal court.
The federal court kicked back the case to probate court Monday afternoon, which is when Donald was first called to testify.
Tuesday, the trial resumed before Donald's appearance. Platzer, called on behalf of Shelly, resumed her testimony of her examination of Donald Sterling and said it was her opinion that "he suffers from Alzheimer's."
Next to take the stand was Spar, again on behalf of Shelly, undergoing friendly questioning by her attorney Aaron Moss. Spar's hourly rate for his examination: $700.
Donald Sterling listened as his wife's attorneys and his attorneys questioned Spar.
Spar, a geriatric psychiatrist at UCLA, testified that he examined Sterling at his Beverly Hills home in May and found Sterling to meet the standard for mentally incapacitated and lacked capacity to serve as trustee.
The last test he administered Sterling, called a "Trails B" test, ended abruptly, Spar testified.
"At the very end, he got a little frustrated," Spar testified. "He said, 'I've got to go.' The last part, it's fairly challenging. He tried to do it, but he couldn't do it. He said, 'I don't want to do it.' I said just give it your best shot. He said, 'I don't want to do this. I'm not going to do this.' He threw the pen down and walked out.
"If he had stuck around, I might have done one more thing. It wouldn't have changed the results.
"He said, 'I've got a roomful of lawyers. I've got to get back to them,' something like that."