U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Tom Brady's Luck Is Running out Before the Second Circuit

It looks like Tom Brady's luck is finally beginning to thin out. The beleagured NFL star's attorney appeared before the Second Circuit (originally brought late last year) and was subjected to the panel's inquiries as to why Brady should or should not be reinstated into play after he was suspended in the wake of deflategate.

The main issue before the panel was whether or not the Manhattan federal court judge Richard Berman had ruled correctly when he found that Brady's rights to due process were violated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who could have potentially dispensed his "own brand of industrial justice."

"Compelling ... Overwhelming"

As Courthouse News reports, Judge Denny Chin made his views of the facts rather clear. "The evidence of the ball tampering here is compelling if not overwhelming," he said. "How do we as appellate judges second-guess a four game suspension?"

The panel of judges zeroed in on the fact that Brady had destroyed his cell phone in the midst of the "deflategate" investigation that ended in May. Investigators characterized that move as a little less than innocent. But Brady's lawyer insisted that Brady regularly destroyed his cell phone to protect his privacy since he was a celebrity. "That ... [makes] no sense at all," Judge Barrington Parker said.

Goodell in Hot Water

Things did not look particularly sterling for Roger Goodell either. The commissioner has faced previous criticisms in his handling of other NFL controversies, most famously the Ray Rice domestic violence snafu. In the deflategate scandal, he was suspended on a finding that he was "generally aware" that the football delation scheme was afoot in the AFC Championship Game that saw the Indianapois Colts against the New England Patriots.

The Second Circuit almost intimated that Goodell suspended Brady in an attempt either to portray himself as a tough-leader or to cover-up his own wrongdoing.

The judges sent some tough questions to the NFL legal side, too. Some of those asked the NFL to justify why deflating of a football would support such a severe punishment. But then they quickly decided that it was within Goodell's authority as NFL Commissioner to hand down punishment as he saw fit. Again, alluding to Judge Chin's words, who are the appellate judges to second guess what punishment is best?

A decision will hopefully be made before the 2016 season.

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