For tonight, this post will take the place of the MPA chronology. First, I was in court today much longer than expected. Second, the MPA chronology is turning into more of a review of everything we've learned, and I either need to trim it down or expand it further. In the mean time, some quick reflections on an atypical day in court.
Might as well get this out right away: today's mediation was unsuccessful. The parties, who expected to continue discussions tomorrow, left the courthouse at about 7:00 with no agreement. Further, tomorrow's talks are indefinitely postponed, to be resumed at a later date. Combined with a statement about two hours prior that the parties were not on the precipice of the agreement, and the general demeanor of the parties and their representatives, it looks like settlement talks have stalled. We'll be back in court Monday, according to a court spokesman.
Of course, I guess that could all be a smoke screen. The parties could have already agreed, or be so close that further formal talks aren't necessary. Or, perhaps discussions were fruitful, but there are many details about structuring a potential deal that the parties need time to explore. It's possible that we go back to court Monday and the parties announce a settlement.
But I doubt it. While appearances are easy to manipulate, everyone involved seemed to indicate talks were not progressing particularly quickly. And while Judge Lichtman is not known to stay after hours unless progress is being made, there are reasons to doubt the parties are close to a meaningful solution.
First, we're dealing with people that had their fair share of squabbles while married. Now they're locked in a billion-dollar divorce. Furthermore, Frank's side likely feels it is negotiating from an artificially weak position. He has yet to make the bulk of his case, while Jamie is coming off a week in which she created much doubt about the accuracy of what would be the strongest testimony yet in Frank's favor. If Frank's attorneys believe Jamie is abusing her position in terms of where we are in the litigation, they might not be in any sort of mood to negotiate.
And maybe that's the point: a settlement doesn't have to come now. It probably won't come now. After this trial comes to a conclusion, Judge Gordon will have 90 days to issue a ruling. You can bet he'll keep the parties well-informed to his progress, and that they will have ample time to reach a settlement. It's a hugely important case, one that could potentially create new California law, but the parties are unlikely to let it get that far. There's just too much to lose.
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