During the next two days while presiding over an appeal hearing for indefinitely suspended former Ravens running back Ray Rice, former federal judge Barbara S. Jones will have to decide who is telling the truth.

Jones will hear testimony at her New York law firm from several high-profile witnesses and, ultimately, the third-party arbitrator will make a judgment call on who she believes in a he-said, he-said situation pitting Rice against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.


She'll also have to interpret the NFL collective bargaining agreement when ruling on a double-jeopardy argument from Rice's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, and the NFL Players Association.

When Goodell increased Rice's original two-game suspension to an indefinite one, he cited new evidence. After video of Rice knocking out then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator surfaced, Goodell wrote in a disciplinary letter that what Rice told him during a June meeting at the league office differed from what he saw on the video. Rice will testify that he told the truth to Goodell and the Ravens, according to sources. Janay Rice, who married Ray Rice after he was indicted for felony aggravated assault, could testify as well.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller III's investigation into the pursuit and handling of evidence in the Rice case is ongoing.

"It's going to come down to who has more credibility in Judge Jones' eyes," said Joel Corry, a former NFL agent who writes about the business of football for National Football Post. "It's going to be very interesting to see what Goodell says when he testifies. These things aren't quite as formal as a court proceeding in terms or as strict, but there will be cross-examination from both sides of the witnesses. It will all go back to her interpretation of what's said about the meeting with Goodell."

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and team president Dick Cass both attended the meeting with Goodell and are testifying at Jones' instruction. Jones didn't include Ravens team owner Steve Bisciotti and director of team security Darren Sanders on her list of witnesses who must testify. Bisciotti and Sanders didn't attend the June meeting, which is expected to be a central aspect of the hearing.

Other potential witnesses on Jones' list who attended the June meeting include NFL senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch, NFL vice president of security Jeff Miller and NFL executive vice president and player counsel Jeff Pash.

What Newsome will say was already signaled on Sept. 22 when the Ravens' public relations department issued a lengthy statement rebutting an ESPN article.

"When I met with Ray to discuss the incident, I asked him one question: 'Did you hit her?' He responded: 'Yes.' Ray and I didn't discuss details beyond that, because in my mind if he hit her, no matter the circumstances or explanation, he needed to own the situation," Newsome said in the statement. "I immediately focused on Ray taking responsibility and making amends. I later said Ray didn't lie to me because he told me he hit her, and that is what the video later showed — although the video was much more violent than what I had pictured."

Article 46, Section 4 of the collective bargaining agreement prohibits the league and teams from punishing a player more than once for the same violation. That will be a major portion of Rice's bid for reinstatement, according to sources.

How Jones applies the Rice case to NFL policies is regarded as critical to the outcome of the hearing.

"That's what could get the indefinite suspension lifted for Rice," Corry said. "We don't know how she'll interpret that section of the CBA, but that's his best talking point."

Attorney David Cornwell, a former NFL counsel who doesn't represent Rice but successfully represented Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and former Ravens wide receiver Donte' Stallworth in NFL disciplinary matters, said it comes back to the seriousness of the policies negotiated by the league and the players' union.

"Ray Rice went through the disciplinary process and a final determination was reached and discipline was imposed," Cornwell said. "Thereafter, based on what the league contends is newly-acquired evidence, the league made a determination that he wasn't truthful. It's being debated whether Ray and Janay were truthful in the meeting. They contend that they were, as do others in the room.

"Even if they weren't, I don't believe that's necessarily a basis for enhanced discipline even if you find a player wasn't credible in a hearing. It's hard to set a precedent based on you saying 'X, Y and Z' in a disciplinary hearing and now they're saying, 'We don't think you were truthful.'"


How much time Jones will take to issue her ruling is undetermined, but it's not expected to take long since Rice has asked to be immediately reinstated.

Rice has filed a separate grievance against the Ravens citing wrongful termination of his $35 million contract and is seeking payment of his $3.529 million salary for the 2014 season.

"I think he's fighting an uphill battle on that one," Corry said. "NFL teams have a lot of latitude to cut players for a lot of reasons."

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