Clippers owner's lawyers seek to make case federal

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Clippers owner's lawyers seek to make case federal
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to his Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owners Donald Sterling and his wife Rochelle Stein watch the Clippers play the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of their NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
File - In this Dec. 30, 2011, file photo, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, watches the Chicaco Bulls play the Los Angeles Clippers along with Clippers owners Rochelle Sterling, center, and Donald Sterling during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. If Donald Sterling is compelled to sell the Clippers, the list of potential buyers will have more stars than the team's roster. Mayweather Jr. wants to form a group to buy the team. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling gestures while watching the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles. Sterling only dug himself into a deeper hole after slamming Magic Johnson when he was supposed to be atoning for his own racist remarks. But he's not the first celebrity to learn the perils of making a non-apology apology. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2010, file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is intent on moving quickly in dealing with the racially charged scandal surrounding Clippers owner Sterling. The NBA league will discuss its investigation Tuesday, April 29, 2014, before the Clippers play Golden State in Game 5 of their playoff series. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling looks on during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. An individual with knowledge of negotiations to sell the Clippers says Shelly Sterling has reached an agreement to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. The individual, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press on Thursday, May 29, 2014, that Ballmer and the Sterling Family Trust now have a binding agreement. The deal now must be presented to the NBA. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling closes his eyes as he watches the Clippers play the Utah Jazz during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, upper right, watches the Golden State Warriors play the Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 10, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to his Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: NBA Basketball player Chris Paul (R) Los Angeles Clippers introduces U.S. President Barack Obama at the Walker Jones Education Campus, on July 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke to area youth about My Brothers Keeper Initiative during a town hall meeting. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers stands on the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 and J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers dribbles the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots a foul shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 13: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers loses possesion of the ball to Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the final seconds in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 13, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Shortly before the start of a trial to determine whether Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the team, his lawyers filed a motion Thursday to move the case to federal court, alleging his medical privacy has been violated.

A probate court trial is scheduled to begin Monday to determine whether Sterling is mentally incapacitated and Shelly Sterling can assume control of the family trust that owns the Clippers. She struck a deal in May to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were publicized and the NBA moved to oust him as an owner.

On Thursday, Donald Sterling's attorneys filed a notice of removal to federal court, saying the airing of his medical information in the probate case violates federal privacy laws. In previous filings, they argued that Donald Sterling submitted to examinations of his mental competence under false pretenses, that there was undue influence in the doctors' findings, and that the examination and letters about his capacity were defective and incomplete.

Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierced O'Donnell, called the move a "cowardly ploy" and said allegations of federal privacy violations are "preposterous" because Sterling expressly authorized public release of his medical records under the terms of his family trust.

"Donald Sterling's 11th-hour attempt to move the probate trial into the federal courts is a desperate act by a desperate man," O'Donnell said in a statement.

Ballmer's attorney, Adam Streisand, also called the move "desperate" and said his side would seek to block it.

"We will be filing emergency relief in federal court to undo this last desperate and frivolous attempt to block our trial from going forward Monday," Streisand said in a statement.

Donald Sterling's attorney Bobby Samini denied the move was mere gamesmanship, saying "we feel strongly that this important issue should be addressed by the federal court at this time."

"While it has become popular to attack Donald Sterling for his regrettable comments, his right to privacy and to the protection of his medical records should not be acceptable collateral damage," Samini said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when a federal judge might rule on the issue, but the trial in state probate court remained scheduled to start Monday morning.

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