Peter Ginsberg, the attorney for ex-Ravens running back Ray Rice, praised former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones, the hearing officer for Rice's appeal of an indefinite NFL suspension.
Jones was appointed Thursday by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in consultation with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith to hear the appeal of Rice. Rice's two-game suspension was increased to an indefinite ban on Sept. 8 after a video surfaced of him punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator.
His $35 million contract was terminated by the Ravens shortly before the NFL upgraded his punishment.
"I have tremendous respect for Judge Jones," Ginsberg told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview. "We look forward to a fair hearing that will move expeditiously. We look forward to it."
Ginsberg and the players' union are expected to argue in the appeal that Rice was punished twice. That would be in violation of Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, which says a player cannot be punished more than once for a single offense. They are also expected to argue that the elevator video released by celebrity gossip website TMZ was edited.
Goodell cited the video as "new evidence" in his disciplinary letter to Rice, a three-time Pro Bowl runner.
Meanwhile, Ginsberg raised the question of whether former FBI director Robert Mueller III was operating independently from the NFL in his investigation into the handling and pursuit of evidence in the Rice case.
Mueller is a law partner at Wilmer Hale, which has done a lot of business with the NFL, including the lucrative DirecTV deal. Ravens team president Dick Cass worked at the Washington law firm for 30 years, but his employment didn't overlap with Mueller's.
"We are not relying on the Mueller investigation, nor are we confident that it will be conflict-free," said Ginsberg, who previously represented former New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the Bountygate scandal. "The hearing before Judge Jones is independent of the Mueller investigation and we are directing our efforts toward Judge Jones' grievance process."