Judge: Decision In A-ROD Suit Must Be Public

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A federal judge said Monday that Alex Rodriguez cannot file portions of arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s decision under seal as part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the one-year suspension from baseball given to the New York Yankees third baseman.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III denied a request by Rodriguez’s lawyers that was supported by the Major League Baseball Players Association. It came a day after the founder of a now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic said during a “60 Minutes” interview he administered an elaborate doping program for the 14-time All-Star starting in 2010. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told the program that Rodriguez’s actions were “beyond comprehension.”

“Given the intense public interest in this matter and Commissioner Selig’s disclosures last night on `60 Minutes,’ it’s difficult to imagine any portion of this proceeding should be filed under seal,” Pauley said.

Pauley said there was a presumption in federal courts that the public should have access to documents. He said the presumption of access could be overridden if there was evidence the courts were being used improperly to force otherwise confidential information to be made public.

“There’s no evidence here of any bad faith,” he said.

Howard Ganz of Proskauer, representing MLB, said the league was not seeking to seal any parts of the written decision, which was issued Saturday but has not been made public.

The three-time MVP was suspended for 211 games last August by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, and Horowitz presided over 12 days of hearings from September through November. Horowitz reduced the penalty to 162 games plus any postseason games played by the Yankees this year.

The brief court proceeding was scheduled so hastily that Joe Tacopino, a Rodriguez lawyer, and union General Counsel Dave Prouty, participated by telephone.

Prouty told the judge the union wanted to redact any portions of the arbitrator’s ruling that touched on subjects required to remain confidential under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

“The players’ association believes those matters should stay confidential,” he said.

Jordan Siev, a ReedSmith lawyer representing Rodriguez, said “we’re perfectly content to file the complaint unredacted.”

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