If you watched PFT Live today, you heard that we’d heard that Judge Susan Nelson would appoint a magistrate judge to preside over mediation between the NFL and the players, if the NFL and the players weren’t able to agree on their own to a mediator.
(If you didn’t watch PFT Live today, what the hell is wrong with you?)
Judy Battista of the New York Times reports that Judge Nelson has appointed Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan (pictured) to handle the mediation. Which means that, as expected, the parties weren’t able to agree to a mediator.
But the players essentially got what they wanted. The mediation will occur under the umbrella of the federal litigation, without George Cohen being involved — despite the fact that Cohen had a 17-day head start, as lawyer David Boies explained it last week, on the process.
In the federal system, magistrate judges typically handle discovery disputes and other low-level matters. Thus, the mediation will occur before someone who potentially will have a direct role in the litigation moving forward, which means that any rudeness or misbehavior could, as a practical matter, work against the party who acts up. At some point, for example, the parties inevitably will grapple regarding the question of whether team-by-team financial records should be disclosed. It’s entirely possible that Magistrate Judge Boylan will be the person to resolve that issue, with Judge Nelson handling any appeal.
Speaking of Judge Nelson, she’ll surely keep tabs on the process by talking to Magistrate Judge Boylan. Thus, it’s an opportunity for each side to appear reasonable — or unreasonable — in the eyes of the court that will be issuing plenty of rulings, if the litigation proceeds.
The mediation session begins Thursday, in Magistrate Judge Boylan’s Minneapolis chambers. It remains to be seen whether any, some, or all of the specific parties will be required to attend in person.