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Presiding judge threatens to dismiss Sunday Ticket case, again

The Sunday Ticket class action was dismissed after it was filed. It might be dismissed again.

As explained by Joe Reedy of the Associated Press, Tuesday’s proceedings included an open-court exchange (without the jury present) between the judge and the lawyers regarding the manner in which the case has been tried.

And Judge Phillip Gutierrez isn’t a fan of the way the plaintiffs’ lawyers are going about their business.

“The way you have tried this case is far from simple,” Gutierrez told the lawyer representing the plaintiffs. “This case has turned into 25 hours of depositions and gobbledygook. . . . This case has gone in a direction it shouldn’t have gone.” [Editor’s note: For the first time in PFT history, the streak of days with articles using the term “gobbledygook” has reached two.]

The exchange happened Tuesday morning, before Cowboys owner and G.M. Jerry Jones resumed his testimony.

“I’m struggling with the plaintiffs’ case,” Judge Gutierrez said.

He wasn’t struggling with it earlier this year. In January, he denied the NFL’s motion for summary judgment, which means he decided there were genuine issues of material fact that need to be resolved by a jury, preventing the case from being determined without a trial.

Gutierrez is now threatening to grant judgment as a matter of law for the NFL. This would mean that (in the judge’s opinion) the plaintiffs failed to introduce enough evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.

Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, Gutierrez earned the assignment by having a reputation for promoting conservative causes, which includes having a natural pro-business lean. It’s therefore no surprise that he’s not feeling warm and fuzzy about the plaintiffs’ case.

That said, judges rarely scrap the efforts of a jury this deep into the trial. Judge Gutierrez might have been simply trying to get the lawyers representing the plaintiffs to move things along more quickly than they have.

Also, if the jury finds in favor of the NFL, the judge won’t need to intercede. If the plaintiffs win, the judge could still grant judgment as a matter of law in favor of the NFL after the trial concludes.

Maybe, based on his comments from Tuesday, he will.