Brady case expected to nudge closer to Doty

We mentioned a few times over the weekend that the NFL quietly is resigned to the reality that, eventually, the antitrust class-action lawsuit filed in the name of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and nine other players will be assigned to Judge David Doty, who handled the Reggie White antitrust lawsuit and presided over its settlement agreement (which became the CBA) for nearly 18 years.

The NFL’s intuition could end up being accurate.

The case first was assigned to Judge Richard Kyle.  We picked through the paperwork filed Friday, and we found the order in which, without specific explanation, Judge Kyle recused himself from the case.  Reports emerged over the weekend that the case has now been assigned, on a random basis, to Judge Patrick Schiltz (pictured).

Now, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Judge Schiltz is poised to step aside from the case.  Per Cole, the move is expected because Judge Schiltz “once worked for the firm Faegre & Benson.”  Cole explains that Faerge & Benson represents the NFL in Minnesota, and that the firm handled the Reggie White case.

But here’s the thing.  The NFL, to our knowledge, has yet to hire Faerge & Benson to handle the Brady case.  (If it means keeping Judge Schiltz and avoiding Judge Doty, the NFL probably wouldn’t hire Faerge & Benson.)

Moreover, this is a new case.  The White case is over.  If, indeed, it’s permissible for Judge Doty’s former law clerk and a self-described “Special Master” in the White litigation to represent the players in the Brady case, why shouldn’t Judge Schiltz keep the Brady case?

This thing is starting to seem a little too convenient.  Unless Judge Schiltz himself personally represented the NFL in the White case, there seems to be no reason for Judge Schiltz to abandon the Brady case.  To a neutral observer with some understanding of how the legal system works, there’s a chance that Judge Kyle (whose recusal looked like a stretch, given that he left the firm that locally represents the NFLPA* in 1992) and Judge Schiltz are simply getting out of the way, out of respect for Judge Doty — or possibly at his subtle (or not-so-subtle) insistence.  Both Judge Kyle and Judge Schiltz could easily justify the move to dump the Brady case by pointing to the fact that Judge Doty has extensive knowledge and experience regarding the issues.  There’s also a chance that neither Judge Kyle nor Judge Schiltz are interested in having such a high-profile and potentially controversial case land on their dockets.

Still, the rules regarding recusal are clear, and the fact that Judge Kyle merely cited the relevant portion of the U.S. Code without explaining the reasons for stepping aside makes us wonder whether Judge Kyle, and perhaps Judge Schiltz, are applying an intentionally broad reading of 28 U.S.C. § 455 in order to dump the case.

Absent full details regarding the reasons for recusal from Judge Kyle, Judge Schiltz, or any other judge not named Doty who gets the case and then drops the case (there are 11 total judges assigned to the district), there seems to be a game of legal hot potato going on in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, and it possibly will continue until the hot potato lands in the hands of the jurist who’s apparently ready to split the thing open and apply generous portions of butter and sour cream.

It’s a hot potato for the NFL, too.  Any effort to force Judge Kyle or Judge Schiltz or any other judge to keep the case against their will could result in an even worse situation than the league would experience with Judge Doty handling the case.

19 responses to “Brady case expected to nudge closer to Doty

  1. Of course the judges are nudging the case towards Doty. That has been the gameplan by the players association from the beginning. Only the owners showed up to negotiate. The players just showed up to get face time on camera.

    Hopefully someone in Washington D.C. gets word to Doty that his decision will be gleaned very closely and any bias shown will be dealt with

  2. I’m not a lawyer (thank God) but why shouldn’t Judge Doty have to recuse himself from the Brady lawsuit? This is a new case and he is already involved in a case with both parties. He might be unfaily influenced by what has already happened before.

  3. Does anybody else find this totally messed up? Is this really how our “justice” system operates???

  4. Why is it called The Brady Case? We know how much Colts fans love their individual honors over Championships.

    Colts fans want this called The Manning Case.

  5. Judges can pretty much do whatever they want. The recusal thing is is only employed when a judge feels like it. If they don’t want to take a certain case, they’ll find a way to employ it. If they really should recuse but don’t feel like they need to, no one is forcing them to.

    The league may feel that Doty is anti-NFL, but he also has experience with the two sides and extensive knowledge of the issues in general. There are arguments for and against.

    Personally, I hope Doty gets it and allows the union’s motion for an injunction so a lockout can get blocked and free agency can start. Whatever gets us closer to business as usual, even if the last thing the business is is usual. I don’t care at this point who wins or what’s fair, I just want football.

  6. Why is it called The Brady Case? We know how much Colts fans love their individual honors over Championships.

    Colts fans want this called The Manning Case.

    LOL…Apparently Brady is first in the alphabet of the nine players named in the case, so I guess that makes it ‘Brady et al’ in the legal world.

  7. Friends, I would like to introduce you to the new NFL commissioner. Judge David Doty.

  8. hey flyerscup2010

    it is people like you and your attitude that put in this useless president and look at the results
    you must live in chicago business as usual, seems that minnesota has been infected also so sad

  9. Or, if the most likely reason, which is implied but doesn’t take the next step, is that both judges have higher aspirations up the ladder to the Federal Ct. of Appeals and having a big “political” matter on their docket for which they rule that could muck it up.

    It makes more career sense to defer to Doty who isn’t going anywhere since he is 82 and use the convenient excuse that Doty has institutional knowledge of the issues.

  10. I for one hope the players fail like hell with this stupid move…and any judge with common sense should kick these millionaire QB’s out of his courtroom when they show up.

    Athletes have no clue to the inner workings of the real world…where us regular joe’s work 8+ hours a day not much vacation time especially if it’s combined with sick time…they cry and moan because they have to come in and workout for a few hours a day throughout the year, the OTA’s, mini camps, training camp etc., um fellows this is your line of work you chose this and you get paid damn good money…i’ll trade positions and salary with you see how you like that!

  11. Like flyerscup2010 says:

    “Whatever gets us closer to business as usual, even if the last thing the business is is usual. I don’t care at this point who wins or what’s fair, I just want football.”

    Who cares if that last $400M or what ever number they are saying it is today ends up on what side. We will still pay $100 per ticket and $8.00 for a beer and we get back to the business of getting ready for the 2011 season. As a Browns fan we need this off season more than most the other clubs…Just get it done as quickly as possible.

    Winners/Losers is there really such a thing when BOTH end up turning a profit in the end?

  12. How can the union be a union one day, not like what they are offered, then stop being a union and sue the NFL on the basis that they are not a union?

    Only in the contorted world of lawyers and the US “justice” system could such a transparent maneuveur even be considered for a microsecond.

    After the players walked away from a reasonable deal without even counteroffering, I am firmly on the side of the owners.

  13. Hilarious, listening to all of the tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists who now think that the NFLPA controls or influences the courts.
    You guys really need to get off Faux News.
    It’s rotting your brains.

  14. Good deal for the players. Good deal for the fans. There will be a season.

    Play under the last CBA, until a new one can be reached.

  15. Anybody consider that the other judges might not want any part of what is sure to be a controversial decision no matter which way it goes. But like one poster said, judges can do just about anything. I took legal classes for a paralegal program. Our teachers were all prosecutors for the MD government. One explained during class that the last thing you want to do is piss off a judge. He could ruin every case you ever have in his court room again. And judges being a tight nit group means that his friends might do the same to you.

    If Doty wants the case, it wouldn’t be a stretch for his fellow judges to move aside for him. Or again, they just might not want the attention themselves. He doesn’t seem to mind.

    Also funny how the system is so screwed up in some peoples view when it doesn’t go their way. So far Doty, juries and every other judge involved have come to the same conclusions. They are just following the law. And usually it’s the billionaires that get things fixed. Not the underdog.

  16. clayshair says: Mar 14, 2011 9:52 AM

    “After the players walked away from a reasonable deal without even counteroffering, I am firmly on the side of the owners.”

    I never realized so many of the posters here were actually present during the proceedings.

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