Viacom's Sumner Redstone in 2014.  Photo via jewishbusinessnews.com
Viacom’s Sumner Redstone in 2014. Photo via jewishbusinessnews.com

A judge ruled Wednesday that Sumner Redstone’s trial next week over control of his health care will be open, but he said he will hear requests to bar the public from hearing some testimony or viewing some exhibits of a sensitive or private nature.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan also said he will rule Monday on a renewed request by lawyers for Redstone’s former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, that the media mogul testify in the case.

Herzer’s lead attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, said he does not know if the testimony would be live in the courtroom or take place in another setting.

Redstone’s lawyers sought to have the courtroom ordered closed if any testimony or exhibit dealt with their client’s medical history. But Cowan said the request was too broad.

“In this country we have open trials. This is not Russia,” Cowan said.

However, Cowan said he will not close the door on hearing requests to exclude the public during some testimony or when private papers are introduced as evidence. He said he preferred to make such decisions when they come up and not before the trial starts.

Cowan and the lawyers also pared the witness lists of both sides to increase trial efficiency. He also said he will add another two days to the trial if necessary after initially limiting it to 3 1/2 days.

Explaining why Redstone needs to testify, O’Donnell said Redstone’s lawyers have not answered questions about what he knew when his October health care directive was changed, when he found out, who told him or how he acted upon knowing.

O’Donnell said Herzer will not accept a sworn declaration offered by Redstone’s attorneys in place of testimony because there would be no chance to cross-examine the mogul, who recently stepped down as chairman of both Viacom and CBS.

O’Donnell said he believes Redstone was “brainwashed” into allowing those around him to evict Herzer from his home last year. The trial will determine whether Redstone was subjected to undue influence. Herzer’s attorneys maintain the 92-year-old lacks capacity, but Redstone’s lawyers dispute that claim.

A Redstone health care directive generated last October will be the focus of the first part of the trial, with a possible second phase dealing with a second directive created this month.

Attorneys for Redstone insist that he knew what he was doing when he removed Herzer.

Herzer contends she oversaw Redstone’s daily care until she was evicted from his house Oct. 12 in a confrontation with his driver, who told her, “Mr. Redstone doesn’t want you here.”

– Wire reports 

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