SBD/October 2, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Attorneys In Bountygate Lawsuit Agree Subpoenas For Coaches Are Valid

Attorneys for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Saints LB Jonathan Vilma agreed in court papers yesterday that subpoenas served on former Saints coaches Gregg Williams and Mike Cerullo and former league investigator Joe Hummel are valid. But Goodell argued that the Louisiana court that is hearing Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against the commissioner should order Vilma's lawyers not to follow through on them because they violated the court’s direction not to proceed on discovery. Other courts issued the subpoenas. “Having sought discovery without leave of Court ... Mr. Vilma’s counsel should not be able to insulate his pursuit of that discovery from this Court’s review by virtue of his own improper actions,” Goodell’s brief said. Vilma’s lawyers wrote that the court has no authority to interfere with subpoenas issued by other courts. Vilma’s lawyers are seeking to depose Williams and Cerullo, who is the alleged whistleblower on the bounty gate scandal, as well as former league investigator Hummel. The New Orleans court essentially suspended the case after the NFL’s CBA Appeals Panel halted the suspensions of four current and former Saints players, including Vilma, until Goodell offers a more detailed explanation of his actions. That response is expected this week, when he could re-implement the suspensions, reduce them or overturn them altogether. Goodell also argues that his motion to dismiss the case automatically stayed any discovery until a court ruling.
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