Donald Sterling's trial is set to begin any minute in L.A. ... and the disgraced Clippers owner has not arrived -- and now, Shelly Sterling's lawyer says he believes Donald is "on the run."
Shelly's attorney Bert Fields just arrived to L.A. County Superior Court and after trashing Donald's "sham" motion to move the case to federal court ... said he believes Sterling is in hiding.
"I even understand he left town," Fields said ... "That's the kind of guy he is. He's willing to do anything rather than face the music."
Fields added, "But he's ultimately gonna have to face it ... as Joe Louis once said, 'He can run but he can't hide.'"
Stay tuned ...