Sumner Redstone Won’t Testify in Competency Case

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Since ailing media mogul Sumner Redstone will not testify at a competency trial there is no need for lawyers to depose him beforehand, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
     Redstone’s ex-girlfriend and former caretaker Manuela Herzer filed a petition in state court late last year, claiming that the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom was mentally incapacitated when he revoked a Sept. 3, 2015 advance health directive.
     The 92-year-old businessman resigned as executive chairman of his two media companies earlier this year.
     Redstone’s attorneys asked a judge to dismiss Herzer’s claims, arguing that Redstone is capable of making his own health care decisions and that the probate case intrudes on his privacy.
     Superior Court Judge David Cowan has so far declined to allow Herzer’s lawyers to depose Redstone.
     But in an ex parte application filed Wednesday, Herzer asked that Cowan do a U-turn because she said the mogul’s lawyers had indicated that Redstone would take the stand.
     “Because Redstone will be testifying at trial, and because his testimony will be utterly crucial to this case, petitioner — as a matter of law and fundamental fairness — must be given an opportunity to conduct pretrial discovery and prepare for Redstone’s trial testimony,” Herzer’s attorney Pierce O’Donnell wrote in the application.
     That was an issue that Cowan sought to clarify at a hearing on Thursday afternoon.
     He asked Redstone’s lawyers if they intended to put him on the stand.
     Hueston Hennigan attorney Robert Klieger told the judge said that Redstone would not be asked to give verbal testimony in court.
     “Mr. Redstone has a very severe speech impediment,” said Klieger and counsel could “not responsibly” put him through a court hearing because it would be “unproductive.”
     O’Donnell was skeptical, noting that he had received an email in late March stating that Redstone would appear in court.
     “Apparently now I want to take his testimony, he can’t communicate,” O’Donnell told the judge.
     Nevertheless, the Greenberg Glusker attorney said that he would not call Redstone as a witness.
     “I believe certain inferences can flow from Mr. Redstone not appearing, whatever the reason is,” O’Donnell said. But he added that out of respect for the mogul he had no desire to put him through a “public spectacle.”
     Cowan therefore denied Herzer’s application.
     The trial is scheduled to begin May 6.

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