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Federal judge will question all Washington owners over leaks and disparagements

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss how the league might respond to Washington's 2009 sexual misconduct settlement and whether owner Daniel Snyder could have to sell the team.

The ongoing legal fight between Washington owner Daniel Snyder and his limited partners will reach full boil in 15 days.

On January 7, all four men -- Snyder, Robert Rothman, Fred Smith, and Dwight Schar -- will appear virtually before Judge Peter J. Messitte to be questioned regarding whether to to what extent they or anyone working on their behalf or at their behest has provided information to any member of the press that potentially conflicts with a November 19 court order requiring the parties to maintain confidentiality and to refrain from disparaging any of the other parties.

“Said parties and their referenced counsel shall represent to the Court, in response to the Court’s questioning, under penalty of perjury, whether they personally or, after direct inquiry, any of their associates or other persons who might have reason to know, have provided or know of any person who may have provided such information to the press,” Wednesday’s order declares.

The parties also must file a joint statement by Monday listing all ongoing legal proceedings involving the parties to the pending case in Maryland, “including the forum; the name of the judge or arbitrator; a brief description of who is seeking what relief from whom; the current status of the proceeding; and whether the proceeding involves any confidentiality or nondisparagement orders.”

Snyder has engaged in litigation literally around the globe in response to his apparent belief that Schar instigated the publication of a false story linking Snyder to Jeffrey Epstein. The current order focuses more narrowly on the question of whether and to what extent the owners or people working for them have violated any confidentiality provisions or non-disparagement clauses applicable to such proceedings.

These developments suggest that Judge Messitte has become exasperated with news accounts suggesting that leaks and/or disparagement have occurred. Judge Messitte will personally grill each of the four men on January 7 to get to the bottom of whether they or someone working for them has said things they shouldn’t have said.

The public hearing could be just the beginning. Judge Messitte could next order a forensic evaluation of phones, email accounts, and other digital communications devices belonging to the four owners and/or their employees and agents. Which means that it will be wise and prudent for the four owners to comply with today’s order fully and completely, and to be prepared to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.