NFL Lockout Watch, Day 54: Appeals Court Orders Case Expedited For June 3 Hearing
As the NFL waits for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether to lift or keep the lockout in place, the court yesterday ordered the case to be expedited, with oral arguments set for June 3. U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson last week enjoined the now two-month-old lockout, but after a little more than a day without a lockout, the 8th Circuit Friday issued a temporary stay of her decision. The league is looking to stay Nelson’s decision through its appeal, while the players want the lockout lifted now. A decision is expected today or tomorrow by the three-judge panel hearing the motion. The order yesterday disclosed the same three judges hearing the stay motion will hear the appeal by the NFL. The judges are Kermit Bye, Steven Colloton and Duane Benton. Bye was appointed by President Clinton and voted against the temporary stay, while Benton and Colloton were appointed by the recent President Bush. If the stay is denied, the league can appeal that decision to the full 11-member 8th Circuit. That would take a few weeks and during that time the lockout would be lifted. The league’s first brief is due Monday, and the players response May 20. The league’s response to that is due May 26 (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Judy Battista notes the expedited schedule, "which sets up a series of briefs and responses from the league and players throughout May, could make it easier for the Court of Appeals to give owners a stay through the appeals process" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4).
NO-HUDDLE OFFENSE: NFL.com's Albert Breer reported the schedule is "extremely swift for the 8th Circuit, and the date for oral arguments is one that’s not on the normal hearing schedule -- a concession made to move things along." 8th Circuit Clerk Michael Gans said a case taken now "normally wouldn’t be heard until October or November and, for a Court of Appeals, that’s pretty quick." Breer noted expediting the hearing is "all-encompassing, meaning the ruling will be made as quickly as possible -- maybe as early as mid-June." In the meantime, court-ordered mediation between the two sides is "set to resume before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on May 16, after four days of talks last month and 16 days of federally mediated negotiations earlier this year." To date, "little progress has been reported" (NFL.com, 5/3). National Football Post President and ESPN NFL analyst Andrew Brandt said that the "expedited schedule was important." Brandt on Twitter said without it, the appeals court "could have gone months" before setting a date for the hearing (USATODAY.com, 5/3).