Friday, March 8, 2013

NYS Backtracks on Ban Language: Back to Court (Updated 4/22/13)

As I reported to you yesterday, today was deadline for the settlement process mandated by Judge Kimba Wood during the Zuffa, et. al vs NYS trial on February 13th. To get you up to speed, representatives for the NY Attorney General had stated in court that were a professional MMA promoter to seek sanctioning from one of the approved 3rd party martial art sanctioning bodies listed in the NY law, it would be legal (as it is with amateur MMA). Lawyers representing Zuffa, et. al. then quickly asked for confirmation and assurance that promotion of a live professional event would not lead to prosecution; noting that if the state would confirm this, there would be no reason to continue the trial. Given the state's history with flip-flopping on the law's interpretation, an assurance of their current stance before a judge would be critical. With NYS's lawyer unable to give said confirmation, Judge Wood ordered an attempt at settlement with a March 8th deadline.

In my February 14th report on the trial I opined:
"The critical question is whether or not the state will stand behind this interpretation of the law and not prosecute a promoter who hosts an event. This will be the meat of the settlement talks. My guess is that Attorney General Schneiderman will make no guarantees regarding future prosecution and toss the ball back to the plaintiffs as if to say "Host an event and find out."
It seems that my assessment was on target. Today the UFC released the following official statement:
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is greatly disappointed that the settlement conference scheduled today before the Federal Court has been cancelled because the New York Attorney General is no longer willing to discuss a settlement consistent with the position his Office has repeatedly taken in Court.
The Attorney General has once again changed his position on the meaning of the MMA ban in New York and we will vigorously urge the Federal Court to decide that the ban is unconstitutional.
So, as I predicted, it is back to court for Zuffa, et. al vs. NYS. Where does this leave us? Pretty much the same place we have been for years: The Senate approving legislation that would regulate professional MMA in NY, an unpredictable Assembly, and a court case proceeding in the background.

A few new things are at play however: Regardless of whether Zuffa, et. al. is victorious at the conclusion of the court case or if the ban remains in place, the trial has made it clear that under the current law a promoter willing to take a risk can hold a professional MMA event here under a third party sanctioning organization (just as the WKA has done with professional Muay Thai). If Zuffa, et. al. is victorious and the law is stricken down as unconstitutional, NYS will fall into "unregulated" territory and pro shows will be legal. Governor Cuomo has also moved away from his prior "lack of a position" and is now publicly considering the issue. So, if NYS wants to ensure proper regulation of the sport, let's hope Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will act justly this year and allow the legislation to the floor for a vote.

4/22/13 UPDATE: No real new news, just NYS flip flopping again in its interpretation of the ban language and moving to dismiss. Here is MMA Payout's Coverage

No comments:

Post a Comment