On Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that no action will be taken against Patriots owner Robert Kraft unless and until the pending criminal charges against him are resolved. So when will those charges be resolved?
The prosecution has been stayed pending appeal of the ruling suppressing the surveillance video from introduction into evidence at trial. In Florida, the appellate system has two steps. As one source with knowledge of the process tells PFT, resolution in the lower level could take at least a year. If/when the case then migrates to the Florida Supreme Court, more time will necessarily pass as briefs are submitted and oral arguments are scheduled and the court considers everything that is submitted and issues a decision in writing.
So it could be two years, maybe more, before the appeals courts in Florida provide a final answer as to whether the surveillance video will or won’t be available for use at trial. A last-ditch effort to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court would create even more delay.
That said, there’s a chance that the prosecution could quietly dismiss the case, perhaps after some of the media attention dies down. The question then would become whether the surveillance video would be made public; previously, the presiding judge ruled that if/when the case is dismissed, the surveillance video would be fair game.
Kraft’s lawyers have since renewed the argument that the video never should be made public, given the finding that the entire surveillance process violated the applicable legal requirements for utilizing such practices. A ruling on that specific request has not been issued.
Thus, if the charges are dismissed and the surveillance video is permanently blocked from public view, the league will have limited evidence for determining whether a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy occurred. Ultimately, the only available proof may come from an interview of Kraft, since no other witnesses would fall within the jurisdiction of the league’s investigation.
If Kraft denies that solicitation of prostitution occurred, how would the league prove that it did? That could be the key question when it comes to determining whether and to what extent the league disciplines Kraft, whenever it is that the criminal case is resolved. Absent a dismissal, it could be a very long time before the criminal case is resolved.