Rackspace co-founder Graham Weston’s divorce trial begins – San Antonio Express-News

Rackspace co-founder Graham Weston and Elizabeth Weston ’s divorce trial — one of the most high-profile breakups ever in the San Antonio area — got underway Wednesday after her attempt to disqualify the presiding judge failed.

Elizabeth Weston had sought to recuse Comal County District Judge Dib Waldrip on grounds he has shown “bias and lack of impartiality” in his rulings ahead of the trial. Her motion was denied by a visiting judge called in to hear arguments on the issue.

Senior Judge Tim Sulak of Travis County, appearing by video, ruled the grounds for recusing Waldrip had not been met to his satisfaction.

“I am sitting as a trial judge, just as Judge Waldrip was sitting as a trial judge, and second guessing his rulings is not the nature of what I am expected or required to do pursuant to my oath of office,” Sulak said.

On ExpressNews.com: Graham Weston’s estranged wife says she has no money to hire attorneys for divorce case

His ruling cleared the way for the trial to start with jury selection. Court was adjourned Wednesday evening after the selection of six men and six women to serve on the jury. Opening statements are expected Thursday.

“This is a rather hotly contested matter,” Waldrip told about 80 prospective jurors before jury selection began. “It is ultimately going to involve property issues and the division of those property issues.” That might include valuations on property that may either be community or separate property and “some other dollar questions, possibly,”he added.

Representing herself

Elizabeth Weston is representing herself in the trial despite having spent at least $5 million in legal fees and costs. Numerous lawyers have withdrawn from the case, citing conflicts with her. She said she tried to hire new counsel but, given little time to prepare and with no money to pay them, was unable to find anyone.

Without counsel and lacking legal training, she has said during pretrial matters that she didn’t know how to proceed or asked the judge for guidance. Waldrip declined to give her any advice.

And because she didn’t comply with pretrial rulings, Elizabeth Weston will not be allowed to testify during the trial. A number of her expert witnesses also have been stricken because Graham Weston’s lawyers were unable to depose them ahead of the trial.

As a result, a trial that was expected to take six weeks is now anticipated to take just two or three days. Lawyers for Graham Weston say they may only need a few hours to put on their case.

Elizabeth Weston, 61, and Graham Weston, 58, wed on New Year’s Eve in 1994. They did not enter into a prenuptial agreement. Their more than quarter-century marriage produced three sons, now adults.

She has accused Graham Weston of sexually assaulting her and having extramarital affairs, allegations he has denied. She has been accused of recording him and hiring a private investigator to track him for a year and a half.


One of the issues jurors will have to decide is how to split up the Westons’ community estate. The exact size of the estate has not been disclosed as yet.

On ExpressNews.com: ‘Welcome to the wild show’: Graham Weston’s divorce case turns into odd affair as trial looms

Graham Weston, best known for co-founding the cloud computing company now known as Rackspace Technology Inc. and his various real estate endeavors in San Antonio, made a one-time appearance on Forbes magazine’s billionaires list in 2013. Elizabeth Weston has said more than $1 billion in assets were amassed during the marriage, though Graham Weston’s lawyers have valued the marital estate at $10 million or less.

Waldrip already has already determined that property held in trusts — created by Graham Weston’s ancestors before he married and that he and others have a beneficial interest in —are not marital property that can be divided by the court. The judge also has ruled any distributions from the trusts to Graham Weston during the marriage are his separate property.

Certain of the trusts provided seed capital when Rackpace formed, Graham Weston’s lawyers have said.

During pretrial motions heard Wednesday, the judge ruled in Graham Weston’s favor on various requests. Among them: precluding Elizabeth Weston from referencing his appearance in the pages of Forbes or even mentioning the word “billionaire.”

William Ford, a lawyer for Graham Weston, said any mention of that would be “inflammatory to the jury” and would be “more prejudicial than beneficial.”

“I’m not sure how that could possibly be inflammatory,” Elizabeth Weston responded, adding they have appeared in news reports.

On ExpressNews.com: Graham Weston’s estranged wife asks judge to recuse himself on eve of San Antonio-area divorce trial

“The jury is going to be instructed to make their decision only on the information provided to them as admissible evidence from this courtroom and not from outside,” the judge said.

Juror questions

Waldrip’s rulings Wednesday clearly flummoxed Elizabeth Weston.

“I am not clear on what I’m even able to say to the jury,” she told the judge.

She then peppered the judge with questions about what she could say to jurors, including when the couple wed and that they had three sons. The judge said she could bring up those facts.

“Am I allowed to say that I have no employment outside the home?” she asked.

Ford objected.

“Judge, we understand that there has to be a little bit of latitude here,” he said. “But that’s not relevant to any issue in the case.”

He added, “Literally, the jury is going to decide the character of a limited number of assets and the value of those assets.”

Waldrip ruled she could mention it to jurors.

During jury selection, Elizabeth Weston asked prospective jurors questions that ranged from what they knew about Rackspace to whether they’ve been affected by pornography to whether they’ve ever lived in a mobile home.


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