Dear Judge Berman: fan letters in 'Deflategate' show passion, anger

Wed Sep 9, 2015 7:06pm EDT
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If the surreal saga known as "Deflategate" has proven anything, it is that National Football League fans take their sport, and Tom Brady, very seriously.

Look no further than the people – including a lawyer, a chemist and a schoolteacher – who wrote approximately 20 letters to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman last month while he considered whether to uphold the New England Patriots quarterback's four-game suspension for an alleged scheme to deflate footballs used in a January playoff game.

Massachusetts attorney Steven Kramer challenged Brady's suspension on grounds including "double jeopardy, issue preclusion and collateral estoppel," a legal doctrine that protects defendants from being tried more than once in a criminal trial for the same issue.

Another man submitted a 61-page brief undercutting the NFL's scientific evidence that the balls were intentionally deflated.

Vanessa Ivelich, a teacher in Reno, Nevada, asked Berman to uphold Brady's ban for her students' sake.

"How can teachers and coaches expect youngsters to abide by the rules of fair play if their favorite player doesn't have to?" she asked.

Berman threw out Brady's punishment on Sept. 3, saying the NFL's appeal process suffered from serious legal flaws. The league has said it is appealing the court decision.

The suspension was imposed over the footballs used in the first half of the Patriots' 45-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts that sent them to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Seattle Seahawks.   Continued...

Judge Richard Berman listens to proceedings in this courtroom sketch during hearing in Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York August 12, 2015. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg