Sports Law

Agony of Defeat for Raiders

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A California Supreme Court justice sounded something like the late sportscaster Howard Cosell in explaining why the Oakland Raiders will not get a retrial in a territorial rights suit against the National Football League.

The trial judge had cited juror misconduct in granting a new trial but failed to clearly explain the reason as required by state law, the court ruled on Monday. Lawyers for the team had presented evidence that one juror said he hated the Raiders and another gave jurors information about the law that did not come from the judge, Associated Press reports.

Justice Marvin Baxter summarized the holding in a concurring opinion quoted in the Recorder.

“The Raiders,” he wrote, “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this proceeding only because the trial court failed to comply with its ‘mandatory’ duty to specify the reasons for its order granting a new trial.”

The Raiders claimed the NFL had interfered with their attempt to build a Los Angeles stadium and forced their move to Oakland. The suit sought compensation if the NFL ever placed another team in Los Angeles.

Raiders’ general counsel Jeffrey Birren told the Recorder the ruling “is incomprehensible and punishes the Raiders.”

The opinion is The Oakland Raiders v. National Football League, No. S132814 (PDF).

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