The Sunday Ticket trial is moving towards a jury verdict

With widespread stories about the judge’s mini-tantrum against the plaintiff’s case By creating the reaction among some that he is about to throw the case out of court, it is easy to forget that the trial is still on track. Not fired. And on the way to a jury verdict.

After a break on Wednesday in the Sunday Ticket trial, testimony resumed on Thursday. Via Craig Clough of Law360.com, Stanford economist Douglas Bernheim returned to the standsspent the day testifying, and will complete his testimony when the trial reconvenes Monday.

Now that Bernheim is the last scheduled witness for the NFL, the question becomes whether the plaintiffs will file a rebuttal case. If they do, there will be one or more additional witnesses. If they don’t, it’s time to finalize jury instructions and deliver closing arguments.

As for Bernheim, the NFL used him to outline a parade of terrible things regarding the potential implosion of the NFL’s current TV model, where the league is not the teams selling broadcast rights to networks. While the current case focuses only on how the NFL prices the out-of-market package, the league is trying to emphasize the idea that the entire operation will fall apart if the teams have to sell their own rights.

In short, the popular teams would make a lot more money, the less popular teams wouldn’t make nearly as much, the salary cap could implode, and football could decline as the competitive balance would be thrown out of whack.

This should not be a problem for the current case, which is not very broad. Without having been in the courtroom, it is difficult to understand why the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not object to all the questions and testimony designed to make the jury think that this rather narrow issue could be the first domino in the collapse of the competition. That’s clearly the impression the league is trying to create.

So here’s the thing. (On Thursday, Joe Reedy of the Associated Press said posted a solid summary about how the case got to this point.) Bernheim will finish his testimony Monday. The plaintiffs may or may not call rebuttal witnesses. The NFL will argue (without the jury present) that the judge should make a ruling as a legal matter for the league. The judge will, as almost all judges do at that point in a trial, let the jury decide the case. The jury does this, after instructions and closing arguments.

Then the judgment will come. And if the plaintiffs win anything, it will be tripled under antitrust law.

Remember this. If the NFL loses, the judge can still rule regardless of the verdict for the league. That’s a real possibility, given his comments on Tuesday. (It’s also possible that he was simply expressing his frustrations, speaking out to the media, and/or trying to get prosecutors to move forward with the case.)

If the judge upholds the ruling, the NFL will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. If the NFL loses in the appeals court, it will undoubtedly take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Before the Supreme Court can rule on the case, it must first decide whether to accept the case.

According to the US government, the Supreme Court accepts 100 to 150 of the more than 7,000 cases An evaluation is requested every year. So at least four of the nine judges will have to agree to the case before at least five of them can rule in the NFL’s favor.

Given the current makeup of the business-friendly Supreme Court, that’s hardly a gamble. If nothing else, it will give Judge Clarence Thomas the opportunity to… Super Bowl ring he ever got from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

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