In the end, Judge Berrigan didn’t have to issue a ruling at all.
An internal appeals panel has overturned the bounty suspensions imposed on the players, a source with knowledge of the decision tells PFT. The development was first reported by Jim Trotter of SI.com.
“Victory is mine!!!!” Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said, via Twitter.
Indeed it is, for now. Unlike any ruling that may have been issued by Judge Berrigan, the ruling from the internal appeals panel, which overturned a prior decision from arbitrator Richard Burbank, is final and binding. The league has no recourse — unless the league chooses to file a lawsuit attacking the outcome of the internal arbitration. (Which is what the players had been trying to do before Judge Berrigan.)
As to Judge Berrigan, she may still issue a ruling adopting and enforcing the outcome of the internal appeal, giving federal credibility to the decision of the panel.
We’ve just received the decision from the panel. We’ll be posting something that explains the ruling in further detail.