( 4UMF NEWS ) Judge Rules In Tom Brady’s Favor:
A federal judge has ruled in favor of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association in the Deflategate case, effectively vacating his four-game suspension.
Judge Richard M. Berman vacated the arbitration by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his opinion filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Berman cited three grounds in making his decision.
“The Award is premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine one of two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes,” the filing read.
The NFL now has the option to challenge Berman’s decision, through the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Brady is eligible to return to team activities immediately and to play in the season opening kickoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sept. 10.
Should the league file an appeal to the 2nd Circuit, it could seek a stay of Judge Berman’s decision. In effect, the NFL would be asking the court to uphold the suspension while it appeals. It would need to first seek a stay from Berman before asking for one from the 2nd Circuit.
Lawyers interviewed by USA TODAY Sports before the ruling agreed the NFL would have a more difficult time obtaining a stay than Brady would have had Berman ruled against him. The party seeking a stay must show a strong likelihood of success, irreparable injury in the absence of a stay, absence of substantial injury to the party opposing the stay and the public interest.
Berman’s ruling comes three days after both parties met in court Monday in a last-ditch attempt to settle the case. Both Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were present for Monday’s hearing, which included a private settlement conference between both sides that lasted 41 minutes.
“I have no qualms with either party in their efforts,” Berman said Monday. “The parties tried quite hard. Sometimes, settlements just don’t happen.”
Brady’s four-game suspension originated from an investigation by NFL-appointed attorney Ted Wells that found Brady was “at least generally aware” of the alleged intentional deflation of footballs prior to January’s AFC Championship Game.
Brady appealed the decision June 23 in a hearing that lasted more than 10 hours. Goodell sat in as the hearing officer in Brady’s case, invoking Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, which allows the commissioner to preside over appeals “at his discretion.”
Goodell upheld Brady’s suspension July 28 in a 20-page decision, in which he stated that Brady “participated in a scheme to tamper” with the game balls in the AFC title game, based on the evidence collected by Wells.
To convince Berman to rule in their favor, the NFLPA cited grounds that Brady didn’t have notice of the policies and penalties he was subjected to, and that the discipline in his case was the product of a “fundamentally unfair arbitration proceeding,” in which Goodell was an “evidently partial” arbitrator.
The league had asked the court to confirm the discipline, citing language in the CBA.