SHOULD YANKEE LETTER STAY PRIVATE?
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is considering whether a letter from Rob Manfred to New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman should be sealed. The letter was part of a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York filed by fantasy baseball players who contended that the league and the teams should be liable for the losses of those who bet on games that may have been tainted by electronic sign-stealing.
The trial court threw out the lawsuit, but before it did, it ruled the letter was irrelevant. But the trial court ruled that the letter could be released to the public. And the Yankees are not happy about it, evidenced by their suit in the Second Circuit. The Yankees argue that because the court ruled the letter irrelevant, it’s none of the public’s business.
The fantasy players argued that Manfred’s letter, which concerned a 2015 incident where MLB fined Boston for illegally using an Apple watch to relay signs to players. In the fantasy players’ view, the letter showed that MLB knew the cheating was occurring, didn’t stop it and let bettors to wager money without knowing the results were tainted.
We’ll see if the Yankees have any success with this. But they are confusing two concepts. While the letter may be irrelevant for purposes of the lawsuit, that ruling doesn’t put it off limits to the public. One reason why court records are public is so the public can review the performance of judges and courts. So here, the public may want to assess if the trial court’s relevancy ruling is correct. Did the court get that ruling right? But there’s no way to make that assessment without seeing the letter. And that is a completely separate consideration than relevancy.
As a lifelong Reds fan, I have to admit, I don’t mind all that much when the Yankees lose. On a baseball field or in a courtroom.