LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge ruled Monday that an ailing media mogul should give brief sworn testimony in a case involving his mental competency and who has the authority to make medical decisions for him.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan ruled Monday that attorneys for the media mogul and Sumner Redstone's ex-girlfriend and longtime companion will be allowed to solicit 30 minutes of sworn testimony from Redstone.
The session will be conducted at Redstone's home and videotaped. Cowan says the video may be played at a trial on Redstone's mental competency that is scheduled to begin on Friday, but the video will not be shown in open court. Cowan says the 92-year-old's privacy rights supersede the public's right to see Redstone in a "weakened state."
Allowing Redstone to testify in his home means he will not have to attend the trial or give live testimony in the trial, which will span several days and feature testimony from several doctors, experts and Redstone's daughter Shari Redstone.
"Nobody deserves to have a career tarnished by having been taken to a courthouse and made a public spectacle of when he would not allow that to happen had he the strength himself to stop it," Cowan wrote in his ruling.
A transcript of the testimony will be released.
Redstone's ex-girlfriend Manuela Herzer filed a probate case last year, contending Redstone lacks mental capacity and he did not approve removing her as the person in charge of making health care decisions for him in October. That move resulted in Herzer being blocked from Redstone's home, and the mogul's attorneys have accused Herzer of filing the case for financial gain.
Herzer's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, has said his client has received millions from Redstone and is motivated only by her desire to protect him and his health.
Redstone through his holding company National Amusements controls CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc.
Cowan said Redstone's testimony is crucial to the case, and he expects the video to be the first thing he reviews at Friday's trial.
Redstone's attorney, Gabrielle Vidal, urged Cowan to delay ordering Redstone to testify, saying the mogul's doctors have said significant stress could harm him.
Cowan however noted that Vidal and other attorneys have told the court that they are able to communicate with Redstone and that he still has the mental capacity to make decisions about his health care and business interests.
The judge told Vidal that Redstone "could be your best witness."
Redstone has a significant speech impediment, and his speech therapist will attend the testimony session to interpret his remarks.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP