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Michael McCann on D&C: ‘I don’t think there’s anything in those [Aaron Hernandez] text messages that implicates the Patriots or Bill Belichick’ 07.15.14 at 11:10 am ET
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Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the latest on former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. To hear more from D&C, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Michael McCann

Michael McCann

Court documents on Monday revealed evidence that prosecutors turned over to Hernandez’s defense in the Odin Lloyd murder case. The documents included interviews with Patriots personnel including Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, and 33 pages of text messages between Belichick and Hernandez from February 2013 to May 2013.

“I think Hernandez is interested in developing some type of — at least potentially — some type of defense where maybe he lacked the mental capacity to commit first-degree murder, that he doesn’t have the sophistication or there are other mental defects, if you like, that would have prevented him from engineering the murder of Odin Lloyd,” McCann said.

“I don’t think there’s anything in those text messages that implicates the Patriots or Bill Belichick. I have a feeling that they’re going to be — and again, I’m speculating — something more along the lines of conversations about plays or other teams’ players that the Patriots may have interest in. I don’t think there’s going to be anything in there that damns the Patriots.”

The content of the text messages haven’t been made public, but McCann said he doesn’t expect there to be anything in the texts that would put the Patriots in a dicey legal situation.

“I think we would have already seen the Patriots, if not charged with a crime, some indication that that would happen,” he said. “It’s now been over a year; I would be surprised that Belichick would have been able to just continue to coach without any charges if he’s in any way implicated in this case. I could be wrong, there could be something in there, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be, again, as damning of Belichick.

“Now, there is a clause in the collective bargaining agreement, Article 21, that prohibits meetings between coaches and players during the offseason. Maybe that was broken through these texts, but that’s really an NFL issue, not a legal issue.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Michael McCann, Robert Kraft
Michael McCann on D&C: ‘Patriots really don’t have any legal relationship to the alleged victims’ of Aaron Hernandez 06.20.14 at 11:39 am ET
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Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss a possible civil suit the Patriots could face as a result of the Aaron Hernandez murder case. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Michael McCann

Michael McCann

The Patriots have been named co-defendants in a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez. The lawyer representing families of two Dorchester men allegedly gunned down by the former tight end is seeking a court order to prevent the team from paying $3.25 million contract bonus he is owed.

“They’re usually successful against the defendant himself. They’re less successful against the employer, and that’s because the legal relationship of the employer of the defendant and the victim is often very tenuous,” McCann said. “And I think that’s true here, where the Patriots really don’t have any legal relationship to the alleged victims of Hernandez, where Hernandez clearly does have a relationship with those victims.”

The Patriots terminated Hernandez’s contract following his arrest for Odin Lloyd‘s murder last year, but the NFL Players Association has filed a grievance for Hernandez’s $3.25 million in signing bonus money he says he is owed.

McCann said the victim’s families want the money the Patriots may owe Hernandez depending on the result of the independent NFL grievance process.

“In terms of the legal theory it’s pretty weak that the Patriots have any obligation to these families, and that’s because Hernandez wasn’t acting within the scope of his employment with the Patriots when these murders happened,” McCann said. “Assuming for a minute that he’s guilty, what relationship did the Patriots have when he did it? It wasn’t happening as a New England Patriot; it wasn’t happening during work hours; it didn’t occur at Gillette Stadium, there was no team function.

“It seems like a pretty weak argument between the Patriots and these victims who they have no legal duty to protect. So I think it’s going to be hard to argue that the Patriots have any legal relationship.”

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Dennis & Callahan, Michael McCann,
SI legal expert Michael McCann on D&C: Robert Kraft should not have talked to media 07.09.13 at 9:53 am ET
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Michael McCann

Michael McCann

Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann joined Dennis & Callahan Tuesday to talk about Robert Kraft’s comments to the media and the Aaron Hernandez murder trial.

McCann said that if he was Kraft’s legal adviser, talking to the media would not have been something he suggested.

“My first advice would be, ‘Please don’t talk to the media yet,’ ” McCann said. ”Let’s wait until maybe the end of the summer before we hear maybe a little more about the Hernandez case. I don’t think now is the right time. There isn’t a lot of news going on with the Patriots and this is going to attract a lot of attention by making comments. But he owns the team, so it’s his decision what to say.

“I think his comments yesterday were fine. I think saying that the team was duped was consistent with what the Patriots want to portray. They had no idea that Hernandez was an alleged murderer, they knew he smoked pot and that he had an issue with that, but they had no way of knowing that he was moonlighting as some killer on the prowl. And I think that is an important point for them because they want to make sure that they are not in any way blamed civilly for what occurred. I actually think his comments were fine and I think they go to the narrative that the Patriots want to present.”

According to McCann, Odin Lloyd’s family could take legal action against the Patriots, but that type of action is unlikely because there is not much of a case to be made against the Patriots.

“I think it is very difficult to imagine a scenario where the Patriots or the NFL can be held civilly responsible for what Hernandez allegedly did,” McCann said. “Let’s just assume for the moment that Hernandez murdered Odin Lloyd. What could the Patriots have done? What legal duty do they owe Odin Lloyd? First of all, it didn’t occur at Gillette Stadium or at any Patriots or NFL facility. It didn’t occur while Hernandez was going to work or was coming from work. It occurred in the offseason at 3:30 am. It is unclear why the Patriots would have any duty to Lloyd. Lawsuits can always happen, but as I wrote yesterday I really think such a lawsuit is unlikely to work.”

For now, the prosecution is focusing on Hernandez, as it takes a lot of evidence to convict someone of murder. The prosecution does not have the murder weapon to use as evidence, which could make convicting Hernandez more difficult.

“You can certainly convict someone without finding the weapon, but it could make it a little bit harder because they are going to say, ‘We don’t even know who fired the shots.’ The prosecution and the police have not announced who actually shot Odin Lloyd. If they can’t figure that out, how can you be sure that Aaron Hernandez is the mastermind behind this plot? A plot that we know really doesn’t make a lot of sense. He gets into an argument with Lloyd and then comes up with this brilliant idea to murder him so close to his house. It suggests he is not really smart, which may be true, but oddly enough not being smart may end up helping him.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Michael McCann, Robert Kraft,
What does recertification for the NFLPA mean and how long could it take? 07.21.11 at 4:35 pm ET
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While the football world waits on the possible recertification of the National Football League Players Association, there remain questions as to what the recertification process involves and how long it will take. NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith spoke with the media early Thursday afternoon about the process, and didn’t sound like someone who thinks immediate recertification is a done deal.

“Every individual person has to make a decision about whether they want to be part of a union,” Smith said. “The individual decision is something that our players take extremely serious[ly].

“I know there are a lot of things swirling out there, and I certainly remember comments from some of the owners about how we might not even be like a real union. Well, guess what? The decision to decertify was important, because at the time we were a real union and the decision for our players as men to come back as a union, is going to be an equally serious and very sober one that they have to make.”

Sports legal expert Michael McCann, the director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School and the distinguished visiting Hall of Fame Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, says that recertification is in the best interests of both sides, but both the players and owners are having their issues with the process.

The league needs the players to recertify for several reasons, not the least of which is that it would help them avoid the possible violation of antitrust laws. Meanwhile, the players are concerned that if they immediately recertify, that would give credence to the NFL’s argument that the whole decertification process that took place in March was a sham in the first place.

“Legally, the two sides could agree without recertification, but it’s in both of their best interest agree to wait until that’s done,” said McCann, who has written about the lockout extensively for SI.com.

Then, there remain questions about how the recertification process would work. One report indicated that the players needed to get the individual signatures of the roughly 1,900 players, while other reports indicate that it could be done electronically. (One player wondered about the possibility of carrier pigeons being used to distribute the ballots.) McCann said that it’s a different process with different unions, but in his experience it’s something that should be able to, “be done pretty quickly, unless the players are incommunicado or something like that.”

“There are a lot of players — it’s a big group. I don’t know how long it would take per se, but I don’t think this would take months,” he said. “If in fact they’ve reached a deal and it’s just a matter of them endorsing it as players, I think the recertification vote could be done quickly.”

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, lockout, Michael McCann,
Analysis: Judge Nelson’s decision sends NFL into a strange new world 04.25.11 at 10:42 pm ET
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Monday’s ruling from Judge Susan Richard Nelson that lifts the lockout now casts the NFL into a strange new world, according to sports legal expert Michael McCann.

With uncertainty about the future of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, there are several unanswered questions about the immediate future of the game, including what might happen if players are to show up at the facilities to work out and/or collect offseason workout bonuses on Tuesday morning.

“Technically, the players can go back to work,” said McCann, a sports law professor who has written about the lockout extensively for SI.com. “The question, really, is under what economic system? It’s an unusual circumstance, and her ruling doesn’t really indicate whether or not the terms of the prior CBA would remain in effect.

“But technically, the lockout has been lifted.”

In the 89-page ruling, Nelson wrote that the plaintiffs “have made a strong showing that allowing the League to continue their ‘lockout’ is presently inflicting, and will continue to inflict, irreparable harm upon them, particularly when weighed against the lack of any real injury that would be imposed on the NFL by issuing the preliminary injunction.

“(T)he public ramifications of this dispute exceed the abstract principles of the antitrust laws, as professional football involves many layers of tangible economic impact, ranging from broadcast revenues down to concessions sales,” Nelson wrote. “And, of course, the public interest represented by the fans of professional football — who have a strong investment in the 2011 season — is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout. In short, this particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation.”

McCann, the director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School and the distinguished visiting Hall of Fame Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, said the ruling was actually a bit of a surprise.

“I think it’s a surprise in the sense that most courts are usually reluctant to grant injunctions,” he said. “She had to do a lot, like find irreparable harm. That meant the players went into this unlikely to prevail, so it is a surprise. And her opinion is very much in favor of the players. It’s a slam-dunk for the players.”
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Read More: David Doty, lockout, Michael McCann, Susan Richard Nelson
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