Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The new Ray Rice dilemma

We've all seen the video(s). Ray Rice and his then fiance were bickering before getting on an elevator and, once aboard, she charged him and got knocked out. What sort of punishment Rice deserves has certainly been the subject of much debate in recent times.

Actually, it's two-fold. First, there's the legal system, with prosecutors, defense attorneys, a judge, and all that. And then there's the NFL itself, championed by one Roger Goodell. But let's look a little closer at both.

Though it's preposterous to believe the prosecutors didn't have the "inside" elevator video all along, they opted to basically drop the charges if Rice entered an "intervention" program. Upon successful completion of said program, Rice's "record" would be expunged. It would be like it never happened. Given the nature of the incident, why they would agree to such a deal seems to remain a very good question indeed.

But they did. And they're stuck with it. Just because the knockout punch video went viral and the masses got their bowels in an uproar makes no difference. The prosecutors had the evidence all along, so they don't get to go back and take a second bite at the apple seeking harsher punishment. That would clearly be double jeopardy for the same crime and no court in the land would grant such a motion.

But trickier is the situation the NFL finds itself in. Particularly when it comes to the Players Union, and the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). Remember, Commish Goodell originally suspended Rice for two games for an incident that happened back in February. Goodell would subsequently claim he had not seen the knockout video until recently. When it went public, the Commish quickly put Rice on an indefinite suspension. And that opens up a can of worms.

Whether their hearts are in it or not, the Players Union is legally obligated to represent, defend, and protect Rice to the best of their ability. After all, he was a dues paying member in good standing.

Enter the current dilemma(s). Turns out, the CBA has a double jeopardy clause as well. Like prosecutors, once the NFL has signed off on a punishment for a particular "infraction" by a player, they don't get another bite at the apple either. Further, there are no provisions in the CBA for an indefinite suspension. Rice is appealing, as well he should. The very word "indefinite" should raise eyebrows. Can you imagine a judge sentencing a convicted defendant to an "indefinite" amount of time in jail? An appellate court would throw out such a vague sentence in a heartbeat. 30 days, 6 months, 5 years, whatever. But indefinite is not an option, nor should it be.

And here's the real kicker. Despite the video, Ray Rice hasn't been convicted of anything in a court of law. The prosecutors signed off, remember? As mentioned above, if Rice completes his "intervention" program, in the magical world of American jurisprudence, all this supposedly never happened.

But Roger Goodell trying to play politician, and flip-flopping whichever way the winds of public opinion are blowing could very well wind up being problematic. He's the Commissioner of the NFL. A lofty position indeed that comes with a lot of power.

Yet being judge, jury, and executioner at his whim isn't going to fly. With the Players Union and the CBA in place, even the mighty NFL has its checks and balances, as well it should.

In the current Rice case, some valid arguments have yet to be resolved.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out....

No comments:

Post a Comment