8.21.2008

Round 2 Begins in Ainge Battle


Federal Judge Rya W. Zobel heard arguments from legal representatives of both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Celtics yesterday afternoon in Boston and then announced that she would take the issue of venue in their respective lawsuits under advisement.

At stake was the location of an impending court case concerning the right of the Celtics to negotiate with Blue Jays' infielder Danny Ainge, who is under contract to the baseball team but who has expressed, via an affadavit filed in the US District Court, a wish to terminate his baseball career and become a professional basketball player. On Aug. 24 the Blue Jays filed suit in New York City against both the Celtics and the National Basketball Assn., claiming interference in the execution of Ainge's contract, and on Tuesday federal Judge Lee Gagliardi heard arguments on the venue issue.

The Celtics had sought and received a Boston court injunction against the Blue Jays' injunction on Aug.24 as well, serving the purpose of giving them a temporary home court to offset Toronto's in New York City. The purpose of the last two days' proceedings, therefore, was to establish the site of the courtroom battle.

Left undisturbed was Judge Gaglairdi's 10-day temporary restraining order prohibiting the Celtics from negotiating with Ainge, whom they selected in the second round of the NBA collegiate draft on June 9. That order expires on Friday, Sept. 18, when Judge Gagliardi has scheduled a 9:30 a.m. hearing in his Manhattan courtroom.

Judge Zobel could make a ruling at any time in the next week or ten days, perhaps resulting in the cancellation of the aforementioned New York court date, should she decide to hear the case instead of Judge Gaglairdi.

That no immediate decision was rendered surprised neither Earl Cooley, the Celtics' attorney, nor Douglas Parker, the Blue Jays' legal representative. "On a case involving issues of some complexity," Cooley explained, "you don't expect a decision to be made from the bench. "This is not an uncomplicated issue."

"This is what we expected," concurred Mr. Parker. "We're just going through the steps."

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