Looks like the once-fiercely independent Sumner Redstone is going to be under the guardianship of the same court-appointed lawyer who ran Britney Spears’ affairs for years, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered today in a dramatic hearing.
Judge David Cowan told a DTLA courtroom this morning that he is granting the motion by the 95-year old media mogul’s grandson and Shari Redstone’s son for a guardian ad litem to be appointed
In public consultation with lawyers for Redstone’s ex-companion Manuela Herzer, the nonagenarian himself and his grandson Tyler Korff, Judge Cowan said that probate attorney Samuel Ingham, III will be offered the GAL post. With Redstone attorney and CBS board member Robert Kleiger looking on from the lawyer’s table in approval, Cowan said he would have the previously suggested Ingham contacted ASAP to help oversee the tangled legal and potentially corporate matters that been in and out of state and federal court for years.
Time is of the essence as a trial on Herzer’s current case that Redstone lacked the mental capacity to make decisions on his will, his family trust and estate plans, his healthcare needs and whether his ex should have been ejected from his home is set to start early next year.
With a decision that could have deep implications for the media empire of Viacom, CBS and more, Redstone was not deemed incapacitated because of incompetence on Monday. “The court is finding that Mr. Redstone is incapacitated not because of his being incompetent, but, rather, because of his dysarthria,” said Judge Cowan reading his unpublished tentative aloud from the bench today. As Korff’s motion of last week leaned into and Redstone’s seeming reliance on an iPad to say things like “fuck you,” the ruling was based on the severe speech impediment and other health issues that plague the nonagenarian.
Now, if he takes on the gig, Samuel Ingham, III will be looking out for Redstone’s interests, with the Paramount ruler’s family likely never that far in the background.
Noe that Ingham hasn’t had what could be termed “difficult” clients before.
Ingham has helped run and rebuild Spears’ finances and career after a very public meltdown over a decade ago. Along with other conservatorship lawyer and the Toxic singer’s own father, Ingham was recently granted a hefty raise for overseeing Team Britney to the Las Vegas residency she lucratively enjoys today.
Back on Planet Redstone, Judge Cowan also stated that the court is not probing the level of dementia that the rarely seen executive may currently have and hence did not order a further medical examination.
In what has been a revolving door of actions in Cowan’s courtroom since filing her initial 2015 case to be reinstated in charge of Redstone’s medical decisions was a harsh blow to Herzer’s long-term goals. Outraged by the call by Cowan, lawyer Ronald Richards stated that denying the exam request “goes to the heart of our defense” and leaves us with “one arm tied behind our back.”
In what has been the multi-year battle for Herzer over being reinstated under the cantankerous Redstone’s his healthcare directive and her own welfare, the judge today also denied the request made by the ex-lover’s side that he visit Redstone at his palatial Beverly Hills home – another win of sorts for Shari Redstone in her ever-expanding dominance of the media armies and power her father built
Coming off the still sealed iPhone filmed video of Redstone earlier this year by now deceased ex-CBS board member Arnold Kopelson, the aim by the defense of the home visit was for the judge to see for himself how the father of Shari Redstone is actually doing. It was also intended to reveal to the judge exactly how much the indecipherable Redstone knows of what’s going on in his name and does he really wants a guardian ad litem appointed, as court papers have said he does.
Not that the Redstone family drama this morning was limited to just relatives absent from the courtroom.
Before announcing his decision and with a trial looming early next year, the judge noted he had received a “late night email” from Gary Snyder, a purported cousin of Sumner Redstone, who alleges that the LA County District Attorney is investigating claims of elder abuse against the media mogul. “The District Attorney knows where to find me,” Judge Cowan told the courtroom of lawyers, declaring he will ignore the correspondence from Snyder.
In a dramatic turn worthy of this matter of many dramas, at the very end of today’s hearing, Snyder himself stood up in the back of the courtroom and revealed his presence. Addressing Judge Cowan and the others assembled, Snyder noted he was the only family member to even show up at such hearing and that his “email spoke for itself.” Judge Cowan recommended the low-key alleged cousin get himself a lawyer if he wants to return to court in the future.
Which just might the case come January when the trial starts, if it does. In the meantime, maybe Redstone can help get Britney back on Viacom owned MTV now that they appear to be sharing a new boss, so to speak