Deflategate: Searching for Justice
This podcast episode is an effort to explain the federal court decision in so called “Deflategate” case. Deflategate is the controversy involving a claim that footballs were slightly deflated by the members of New England Patriots staff, during the AFC Championship Game and that the Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady was aware of it.
What Are the Facts?
Shortly after the game, NFL officials started a reportedly $3+ million investigation into the alleged circumstances surrounding the use by the Patriots of these under-inflated footballs during that game’s first half.
The result of that investigation led to Brady receiving a 4 game suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season. Brady appealed that decision and after a day long hearing, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell upheld the decision . Brady and the players association then sued in federal court to overturn it.
On September 3, Judge Richard M. Berman threw out Brady’s suspension on the grounds that the arbitration process had not been fair to Brady.
Judge Bermen acknowledged that judicial scrutiny of arbitration awards is limited, to ensuring that arbitrators comply with the requirements of the statute at that covers the collective bargaining agreement. However, he found that “the deference due an arbitrator does not extend so far as to require a district court to countenance, much less confirm, an award obtained without the requisites of fairness or due process…..The principal question for the reviewing court is whether the arbitrator’s award draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement, since the arbitrator is not free to merely dispense his own brand of industrial justice”.
A Failure of Justice?
He then held that the actions of Commissioner Goodell failed to meet that standard by “(A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine one of two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and general council Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes”
In effect, Judge Berman gave the game ball to Brady. What do you think? Was it the right ruling?