Vilma gets same judge for his new case

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Part of getting the justice you want is getting the judge you think will give you the justice you want.  And Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has gotten the judge he wanted, for both of the lawsuits he has filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reported on Tuesday, and we separately have confirmed, that Judge Helen G. Berrigan has been assigned to the new suit filed against the NFL challenging his suspension.  She previously was assigned to the defamation lawsuit Vilma filed against Commissioner Roger Goodell.

As we explained in May, Judge Berrigan’s background and temperament favor Vilma’s interests.  Appointed by a Democratic president and having a reputation for being liberal, she’ll be more likely to side with David in a case against Goliath.

That’s a very loose, but very real, perception in the legal profession.  Liberal judges tend to be more favorable to the rights of individuals, and conservative judges tend to be more favorable to the rights of large organizations.  It’s a dynamic about which the NFL surely didn’t complain once the ultra-conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit got its hands on the ruling from liberal Judge Susan Nelson that the 2011 lockout violated antitrust laws.

The NFL surely is complaining, albeit privately, about the fact that Vilma was able to finagle Judge Berrigan for both the case against Goodell and the new case against the NFL.

Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, definitely isn’t complaining now.  Ginsberg recently expressed his belief in a letter to Judge Berrigan that a then-looming action to block the suspension is a “related case,” and that it should be joined with the case against Goodell, which shows that Ginsberg likes the fact that Berrigan has been assigned to the initial case, and that Ginsberg wanted her to take the new case, too.

As to the initial case, Goodell’s response to the defamation complaint filed by Vilma is due tomorrow, July 5.  Look for Goodell to file a motion to dismiss, claiming that the case is blocked by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and to avoid (at least for now) addressing Vilma’s specific allegations.

If/when Goodell must address Vilma’s allegations, look for Goodell to deny everything.

The good news for the NFL and Goodell is that the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Louisiana — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — has a reputation for being conservative.

The NFL definitely isn’t complaining about that.

15 responses to “Vilma gets same judge for his new case

  1. The Saints are the biggest babies in sports. Take your punishment like men or prove that the NFL is wrong. It seems like it’s all talk from Goodell and New Orleans, and since the players gave Goodell all the power, without evidence they’re screwed and should get in with their lives.

  2. My problem with these “bounty” suspensions is the lack of evidence if greg williams was involved as the nfl says he is then the nfl should get a statement from him with all the players involved instead all we have is hearsay and audio from a “player” saying give me my money which could mean bounty or could mean he wants a new contract
    Until the NFL can without a doubt prove
    1 a bounty system was in place
    2 the players involved
    3 the coaches knew about it or involved

    All suspensions should be recanted

  3. I’m not a fan of Goodell (salary cap debacle was a joke), but these guys were given chances to present their cases to Goodell and opted not to. Instead they wanna be babies and sue. Great example these guys are setting, if you don’t get what you want just sue. I hope the Taints lose every game this season.

  4. Liberal judges tend to be more favorable to the rights of individuals, and conservative judges tend to be more favorable to the rights of large organizations. 

    I take issue with this statement in a big way.

    Liberal judges tend to side with Union interests, and the interests of the state, regardless of who it is they step on. I’ve seen it a thousand times where privately owned businesses, like family farmers, are steamrolled by state tax-payer funded lawyers illegally trying to annex land at unfair prices while paired with liberal judges who will always side with the state attorneys over the farmer. They do it every time regardless of the right or wrong of the matter. Go tell a farmer that liberal judges are looking out for them and see what reaction you get.

    On the other hand, conservative judges tend to follow the law to the letter, which usually does favor large organizations who take great pains to be in compliance with the law. However, when the individual rightly has the law on their side, there is no better judge to have than a conservative one, because they won’t let emotion or their personal political agenda cloud their judgement.

  5. Since when should politics play a role instead of the actual law of the land? The United States judicial system is a frickin’ joke…but I’m sure O.J. kind of likes it.

  6. Since when do the accuse in this country have to prove their innocense? They don’t have to prove that the NFL is wrong either. It’s the accusers that have to prove their accusations, unless the constitution has changed this 4th of July. The players should get their day in a real court, and not in Goodell’s conference room.

  7. Funny when this first came out Williams said he was embarrassed and it was on him, Saints fans forget this. Other players from other Williams teams (including Coy Wire in Buffalo) admitted that he had run bounty programs while Williams was there, Saints fans forget this.

    The NFL told Benson about this 2 years earlier and he told Micky Loomis to make sure it stopped, Loomis did not do anything and the program continued, Saints fans forget this.

    Vitt’s Lawyer David Cornwell stated that Loomis and Payton did meet with Williams before a divisional playoff game and ordered him to “stop the BOUNTY program” and that Williams was a rogue coach. Saints fans forget this.

    Look at these 3 things, none of which the Saints dispute, how can any reasonable person say there was no “BOUNTY” program? Oh yeah they admit there was a “pay for performance” scheme but now claim it wasn’t a bounty program, well why didn’t the players and coaches just admit to all of that during the first investigation instead of stonewalling? Because they’re innocent right?

  8. The Saints was trying to hurt other players, now they have to pay the price. But Goodell shouldnt be the one doing it, he knows NOTHING about the game EXCEPT how to destroy it, Goodell is making defense a penalty.. he wants to stop the kicking game.. an completely do away with the pro bowl.. The NFLPA needs to go after him now. Before its too late

  9. Given the fact that Ginsberg already has a questionable background regarding unethical behavior in a court of law, I’d watch this Judge/Attorney relationship like a hawk.

  10. I’m not a Saints fan (Lions fan) but:

    * It’s not right to say, ‘the Saints need to stop whining…take their medicine…blah blah.”

    I think for the most part, the Saints fans and organisation have. I think they knew what they did was wrong, but are a little upset that it’s been portrayed that they literally had a bounty program. It literal terms, they didn’t.

    * It’s just Vilma. Vilma is pathetic. I strongly believe the NFL has a number of statements saying that had offered $10,000 to knock out Favre. Vilma was part of something like this back when he was at Miami. He seems to think the rules don’t apply to him. It’s not the Saints, it’s Vilma. He’s the one who’s been carrying on. Look at Vitt, Payton, etc. They think they’re punishment is a bit harsh, but they’ve swallowed their medicine.

    * What’s more, if Vilma does come back he probably doesn’t even start for New Orleans. If he does get reinstated, I would be surprised if a large percentage of Saints fans want him cut. For the money, carrying on and drama he’ll bring compared to the production, that’s a bad investment, regardless of what he’s done for you in the past.

    * In short, don’t hold the Saints name tightly against Vilma at this stage of the process.

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