NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has named former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey as his designee to hear the league’s appeal of the six-game suspension in Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s sexual misconduct case.
The NFL office informed all 32 teams in the league around 4 p.m. Thursday of the decision to have Harvey hear the appeal. It was almost exactly 24 hours after the league submitted its written appeal to the the NFL Players Association that it would be appealing the decision released Monday by jointly appointed disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
“The NFL’s appeal addresses whether, based on the findings made by Judge Robinson, the discipline should be modified to include a professional evaluation and treatment as determined by medical experts, an appropriate fine, and a longer suspension,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in the emailed announcement to the USA TODAY Network. “Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Mr. Harvey’s written decision ‘will constitute the full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s), and parties’ to the CBA.”
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The personal conduct policy states that the appeal will be processed on an expedited basis, but there’s no exact timetable for when a final decision will be rendered. It also must be limited to consideration of the terms of discipline imposed by Robinson and based upon a review of the existing record without reference to evidence or testimony not previously considered.
Harvey is now a partner at the New York law firm of Patterson Belknap, as well as a mediator for the United States District Court of New Jersey Supreme Court, the New Jersey, New Jersey Supreme Court. He is also a member of the NFL’s Diversity Advisory Committee, where he is a consultant to help with the league’s efforts to improve its hiring practices within the head-coaching and senior-executive ranks.
In February 2003, New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey appointed Harvey as the acting attorney general before eventually being confirmed and sworn in later that year. He was the first African American to hold the office, which he did until 2006.
“He has deep expertise in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault,” the league’s statement said, “and has advised the NFL and other professional leagues on the development and implementation of workplace policies, including the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. Mr. Harvey has also served as the Commissioner’s designee in other arbitrations.”
Watson, the Browns and the NFLPA have not made any public statements since the NFL’s appeal was made known. The NFLPA has until Friday afternoon to respond in writing to the league’s appeal, per the collective bargaining agreement.
The NFLPA did not have an immediate response to messages seeking comment.