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A Friday ruling from Judge Berrigan is inevitable

Jonathan Vilma Portrait Shoot Getty Images

With only one business day remaining before the first Sunday of the 2012 regular season, Judge Helen G. Berrigan will issue a ruling, one way or the other, on Friday.

Even if she doesn’t issue a ruling, she necessarily will issue a ruling.  By failing to grant the pending motions to lift the suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove, Judge Berrigan will essentially be denying the motions.

There’s no reason for further delay.  As explained by Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFL has filed its written response to the mst recent motion to lift the suspensions pending a final decision on whether the suspensions would be overturned.  The ball is now in Judge Berrigan’s court.

Assuming that a ruling comes on Friday afternoon, the NFL will have little or no chance to overturn the decision on appeal before Sunday’s games.  And that’s likely why Judge Berrigan has waited.  The downside, however, is that the players will end up having no chance to prepare for Sunday’s games, because they will have missed practice all week.

Of course, even if Vilma is permitted to play against the Redskins, there’s no reason to think he’ll be able to play.  Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune explained on Friday’s PFT Live that Vilma likely will be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to a lingering knee injury.

Of course, he’ll also be able to show up for the game, running (if he can run) onto the field with the team and helping whip the Saints fans into a frenzy that could match the first game back in the Superdome from nearly six years ago.

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28 Responses to “A Friday ruling from Judge Berrigan is inevitable”
  1. bartpkelly says: Sep 6, 2012 11:53 PM

    Also the players won’t be able to appeal in time for Sundays game if the decision isn’t what they want. Unbiased journalism this isn’t.

  2. gunndlewittlebaum says: Sep 6, 2012 11:57 PM

    Call me jaded, but the last thing I would trust is a wealthy judge. Whatever…FOOTBALL RULES!!!

  3. sdisme says: Sep 6, 2012 11:58 PM

    No way this would match the 2006 dome re-opening. Not even close.

    But it could match the 2009 Deuce Mcallister leading the team into the playoffs. Or the 2011 Steve Gleason leading the fans in the Who Dat chant.

  4. letmesetyoustraight says: Sep 7, 2012 12:08 AM

    I think the judge was also hoping that a ruling about the appeal to the three judge panel last week would have been rendered. Why they are dragging their feet with that decision needs to be looked into.

  5. draftazoid says: Sep 7, 2012 12:10 AM

    If this Judge is waiting for Friday so the NFL cannot appeal her decision in time for the first game then she is just a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE Judge.
    Pardon my French but what a crappy judge.
    No one should call her Honorable.

  6. fm31970 says: Sep 7, 2012 12:18 AM

    “The NFL will have little or no chance to overturn the decision on appeal before Sunday’s games. And that’s likely why Judge Berrigan has waited. The downside, however, is that the players will end up having no chance to prepare for Sunday’s games”

    Brilliant on her part. She has stated she wanted them to resolve this between themselves, and even gave them the opportunity to do so…yet they have not. Both lose, and they mostly have themselves to blame.

  7. dykeflorio says: Sep 7, 2012 12:21 AM

    Why do you always “write” the blog entries here that contain legal issues, when you are the only one on this blog’s “staff” that actually failed at being a lawyer?

  8. eventhorizon04 says: Sep 7, 2012 12:21 AM

    “Assuming that a ruling comes on Friday afternoon, the NFL will have little or no chance to overturn the decision on appeal before Sunday’s games. And that’s likely why Judge Berrigan has waited. The downside, however, is that the players will end up having no chance to prepare for Sunday’s games, because they will have missed practice all week.”

    …So, she’s delaying her decision so her decision can’t be overturned before game 1.

    But by delaying her decision this late, there’s no way these guys can play in game 1.
    And her decision can still be overturned after game 1.

    …Okay.

  9. 2ballzdeep says: Sep 7, 2012 12:49 AM

    Explain this to me:

    A general manager, a head coach and two assistant coaches get heavy sanctions and accept their punishment without legal recourse.

    A billionaire owner has his aforementioned staff sanctioned, his team fined and stripped of draft picks and accepts the punishment without legal recourse. The same billionaire owner, it should be noted, who spared no time or expense later during the same spring to hire Louis Freeh’s group to primarily investigate the allegations of wire-tapping by his GM made by the Louisana Police and the FBI.

    Four players get varying degrees of sanctions for the the same offenses that the preceeding individuals/entity were sactioned for, yet they refuse to accept their punishment and resort to legal recourse.

    Why the difference? It isn’t money, as the head coach, GM and (especially) the owner have the financial capacity to drag the matters through the courts. The reason is that the players are part of a union and there is no chance that a union would allow any one of their constituents to receive so much as a dirty look for their actions, regardless of how aggregious their actions were.

    I guarantee that if there was a coaches union in the NFL that Sean Payton, Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt would have their cases in front of a judge as we speak and would be preparing to coach on Sunday.

    If you needed another example for the demise of America you need to look no further than the last 18 months of NFL history to see the reckless damage created by the union and their inability to accept what is right by societal standards as opposed to justifying their own existence and performing self-serving acts.

  10. sfsaintsfan says: Sep 7, 2012 12:57 AM

    Basically you are dealing with two players here, Fujita of the Browns and Will Smith of the Saints. Both are veterans who can play at a high level on Sunday with no practice time. They know their jobs. Vilma can’t play right now anyway because of injury. The upside for both Fujita and Smith is they would get paid if they play on Sunday.

    The NFL and their bogus appeals process have been the driving force in dragging this process out as long as it has. The appeals board/panel has delayed releasing their finding as to whether Goodell had the power to issue suspensions for on the field conduct foe months. Thy could have issued a ruling weeks ago, but they have been dragging their feet, probably at the instruction of Goodell.

    Judge Berrigan will very likely issue a ruling tomorrow. If she rules in favor of the players, you will hear nothing but “home cooking” from the Saints haters, but remember this, the NFL has been dragging this out for months and their appeals panel has been the one that has not issued their findings for months. In my opinion, Goodell has overstepped his authority under the CBA and will be slapped down on Friday.

    What has happened up to now has been the pre-season, the Super Bowl will be Vilma’s Defamation lawsuit, which if successful, will lead to the owners firing Roger Goodell.

  11. cwwgk says: Sep 7, 2012 1:06 AM

    Certainly anything can happen but issuing a ruling tomorrow would be somewhat surprising. Just yesterday Judge Berrigan issued an order for the parties to submit briefs on the issue of the NFLPA’s potential conflict of interest. The league’s isn’t even due until Friday.

    To grant the players’ requests for injunctive relief will require a determination by Judge Berrigan that there’s a strong likelihood the players will succeed at trial.

    If the case is so clear cut against the league, one would expect injunctive relief to have been granted by now. It’s been nearly a month since the hearing was held on Vilma’s motion.

    Instead of ruling, Judge Berrigan is trying hard to get the parties to compromise and reach a settlement. A common tactic when all litigants could potentially lose. That fact alone suggests injunctive relief is unlikely. Then add the concern of Judge Berrigan that three of the players may need new counsel based on the failure of settlement discussions, it seems almost certain that the judge does not believe the players have a strong enough case at this juncture to have their suspensions lifted before a final ruling is made.

    If a presiding judge thinks a party may need to be represented by a completely new lawyer after several months of litigation, there’s probably something seriously wrong with how that party’s interests are being handled.

    Time will tell, but it sure doesn’t seem Judge Berrigan is particularly concerned with timing her ruling so as to prejudice the expediency of an appeal by the league.

  12. waitingguilty says: Sep 7, 2012 1:22 AM

    Just to be safe…I am not going to hold my breath.

  13. jbaxt says: Sep 7, 2012 1:25 AM

    It would be huge. I can’t stand Godell.

  14. biggestsaintsfanever says: Sep 7, 2012 1:29 AM

    This is such good news. the saints can start their journey to vindication Friday, and their journey to the SuperBowl Sunday !

    WHO DAT !!

  15. pjgrannan says: Sep 7, 2012 1:30 AM

    Or she could craft her own compromise by waiting till after the players have all missed one game and then granting the TRO for further games.

  16. larryjames836 says: Sep 7, 2012 1:46 AM

    Just beating NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at his game and releasing the players back to their team is enough just seeing they faces on the sideline is a rally for the Saints fanbase. New Orleans Saints has the best fanbase in the NFL it doesn’t take much for our fanbase to rally and the Washington Redskins QB-RGIII is going to find that out as soon as he step feet on the SuperDome packed with the WHODAT’S NATION fanbase.

  17. silentcount says: Sep 7, 2012 2:21 AM

    Any judge would see something wrong with this system where a dictator gets to fabricate public outrage with his accusations and then execute at will, with no valid proof provided. The lack of evidence actually violates the rules of the CBA, which is what the judge will use as the authority to allow the restraining order. The players have to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and it’s unlikely a court trial will since the evidence provided “Borders on ridiculous” in the judges words. This so called “evidence” was also used to suspend Sean Payton, so he should have his suspension lifted too. Having his freedom of speech so severely restricted by Goodell is down right unAmerican. Let the truth be known!

  18. sarcasticks says: Sep 7, 2012 2:56 AM

    In my amateur opinion, Judge Berrigan said that she would rule for the players if she could find a legal basis for it, simply because she wants to do it, but knows that she cannot actually do it. She stated this to encourage the NFL and the players to settle the dispute without a ruling.

    Her delaying now is clearly a bad sign for the players. If she found a way to rule for them, she would have done it already.

  19. randomguy9999 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:26 AM

    the one unfailing measure of maturity is responsibility…

    holding ones hand up and saying “I did it, only I am responsible for my actions, and I apologize”

    but these players aren’t up for that…. and that says a lot…..

  20. draftazoid says: Sep 7, 2012 6:15 AM

    The Seahawks said to tell Drew Breed ” WHO DAT”
    Haha

  21. samapoc says: Sep 7, 2012 6:30 AM

    There is so much misunderstanding in the comments. Federal judges aren’t rich. Legal rulings are made with everything in mind, including appeals, because it can support an outcome that a judge wants–the ruling is not done in a vacuum. This is real life, it affects how people make a living and therefore drives at the heart of what it is to live in the United States. After examining the facts of the case, the judge believed there is not sufficient evidence of bounties (according to her statement). Federal judges are considered impartial, are appointed for life by the President of the United States (this to be contrasted with elected state judges, who can be openly partial.) The coaches have no power to oppose Goodell because they have no union. Goodell can arbitrarily prevent them from working and absent proving that Goodell violated some tenant of employment (eg firing based on race, sex, etc.) they really have no case.

  22. nashwaakkidd says: Sep 7, 2012 6:36 AM

    biased homer judge, i wonder which way she will rule?!?! don’t let the fact that there is a collective bargaining agreement get in the way of your desicion. i doubt she can find a legal reason to overturn the suspentions, so she’ll base it on the “fact” that she thinks the NFL is being mean. next week REAL judges will uphold the penalties .maybe she should be suspended from her bench.

  23. emmonsh says: Sep 7, 2012 6:38 AM

    no way should any of them ever play again. but if they do this week i hope 1 of the players they target hits brees in he head and hes permantely injured. thats what vilma the puuusy wanted to do. les do it to brees. hes the biggest douche bag out there. but hey those losers are done. probably never make the playoffs again.

  24. robf2010 says: Sep 7, 2012 6:58 AM

    “Basically you are dealing with two players here, Fujita of the Browns and Will Smith of the Saints. Both are veterans who can play at a high level on Sunday with no practice time.”

    I haven’t seen Fujita this season much but Smith has been in training camp and has played in preseason don’t-call-them-exhibition games. He’s in shape and ready to go. If that judge makes a favorable decision for him by Sunday morning, he’s playing.

  25. packhawk04 says: Sep 7, 2012 9:10 AM

    Just so everyone is aware, even if judge who dat rules in favor of vilma, itll be a cold day in hell when the appeals court agrees with her decision, which is why judge who dat said itd be a mistake for vilma not to accept an 8 game suspension. The only people who dont know theyre going to lose are vilma and kessler. I dont think i have to remind anyone how incompetent kessler is.

  26. sb44champs says: Sep 7, 2012 9:52 AM

    2ballzdeep says:
    If you needed another example for the demise of America you need to look no further than the last 18 months of NFL history to see the reckless damage created by the union and their inability to accept what is right by societal standards as opposed to justifying their own existence and performing self-serving acts.
    ——————————-

    You just described the NFL to a “T”!!!!!!!!

  27. ernie ernie says: Sep 7, 2012 10:16 AM

    I see no authority what so ever for this to be a court decision. There is a contract, there was a crime, there was testimony and evidence and the parties were found guilty but they don’t want to pay for their guilt.

    Also, the judge did not take in consideration their was an appeal process that the players were told not to participate in. They were given an out for reduced penalties but opted for the court system.

    Vilma’s lawyers understand from the Williams case that a suspension can take years in the courts and by then Vilma will be at the end of his career. Vilma wins for cheating and the NFL gets screwed again and so do the fans.

  28. ernie ernie says: Sep 7, 2012 10:20 AM

    Vilma knows he did it and he is guilty. He also knows that the liberal courts have always sided with the players and the unions. These judges know who writes their pay checks and rarely go against that person.
    If your a judge looking at a possible politcal career or some higher appoinment, you better be dam liberal in all your decisions or else.

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