Judge Berman basically mocked ‘independence’ of Ted Wells report
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman did not buy that the Ted Wells investigation was truly independent, and he made that incredibly clear on Thursday when issuing a 40-page ruling explaining the decision to overturn Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
For starters, Berman used quotation marks several times throughout his ruling when referring to the “independent” investigation from Wells. Not only that, but he even took the liberty of renaming the investigation the “Pash/Wells Investigation.”
Pash refers to NFL attorney Jeff Pash, who was allowed to review a draft of the Wells report and make edits to it before it was released to the public. That raises a red flag in and of itself, but Berman also scolded the league for not allowing Brady’s legal team to cross-examine Pash during the appeal of Brady’s four-game suspension.
“Denied the opportunity to examine Pash at the arbitral hearing, Brady was prejudiced. He was foreclosed from exploring, among other things, whether the Pash/Wells Investigation was truly ‘independent,’ and how and why the NFL’ s General Counsel came to edit a supposedly independent investigation report,” Berman wrote.
If you remember, the NFL tried to argue in court that Wells did not have to be an independent investigator under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. While that may be true, Roger Goodell stressed on numerous occasions that the investigation was, indeed, independent. Berman clearly felt that was a bad look for the league, which helps explain why he said this during settlement hearings.
The NFL will likely appeal Berman’s ruling, but there is an early sense that Brady will have an easier time winning at the second circuit.