Two days after the Ray Rice appeal hearing should (in theory) have been conducted, the NFL and NFLPA have selected a hearing officer to handle it.
The NFLPA and NFL have announced that former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones has been appointed to preside over the hearing and to decide whether Rice’s indefinite suspension should be overturned. Previously, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith advised union leadership that Commissioner Roger Goodell had agreed to the selection of a neutral arbitrator. The announcement indicates that the parties consulted on the selection of Judge Jones, and that the union agreed to it.
Judge Jones was appointed to the bench by Bill Clinton in 1996. She left the post in 2013 and joined the firm of Zuckerman Spaeder.
“We are grateful to Judge Jones for taking on this role,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release announcing the appointment. “She will have our full cooperation as she hears and decides this appeal.” (Presumably, this means Goodell will give complete, non-evasive answers when testifying at the hearing.)
And now the process will begin of taking a closer look at Judge Jones’ background, ruling, and past and present clients in an effort to determine whether she brings any bias or inclination to this assignment. The appointment by a Democratic president typically suggests that the judge will be more open-minded to individual rights, and more willing to scrutinize decisions made by management.