NEW YORK (AP) — Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones has been appointed to hear Ray Rice’s appeal of the indefinite suspension handed down by the NFL.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the appointment Thursday after consulting with DeMaurice Smith, the players’ union executive director.
Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after a video of Rice hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator was released publicly. Goodell originally had suspended Rice for two games.
Jones served in the Southern District of New York from 1996-2013. She also has been an attorney in the Department of Justice and currently is a partner in the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder.
“We are grateful to Judge Jones for taking on this role,” Goodell said in a release. “She will have our full cooperation as she hears and decides this appeal.”
A month after Rice was initially suspended for two games, Goodell admitted he “didn’t get it right” and announced tougher penalties for future domestic violence incidents. First-time domestic violence offenders would face a six-game suspension, and repeat offenders would be suspended indefinitely.
The policy didn’t apply to Rice, who had already received his penalty.
But once the video became public, the Baltimore Ravens cut the star running back, and the league banned him indefinitely. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice.
The union appealed Sept. 16, saying Rice should not be punished twice.
“The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the commissioner of the NFL,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement when it filed the appeal. “We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators.”
Now that Jones is in place, a hearing is expected to take place shortly.