The case between the city of Seattle and the Sonics was moved to Federal Court late Tuesday afternoon. The move is not unexpected, but the timing is. It appeared as though the arbitration vs. litigation decision would be handled in Washington state’s King County Superior Court first, and if the Sonics failed to win their desired arbitration ruling they would then try to get the case handled in Federal Court. Or, the Sonics would have applied for a move to Federal Court from the start and not bothered going through the filings of the past few weeks in State Court with the change of judge and motions to stay etc.
A hearing was scheduled to take place today (Wednesday the 10th) with King County Superior Court Judge Harry McCarthy presiding over the case. As of late Tuesday afternoon Oklahoma time he had yet to decide if and/or how he was going to handle the case. Late Tuesday afternoon Seattle time, the case had been signed off to move to Federal Court.
Again, the move to Federal Court is expected, and it might be a small victory for the Sonics. Since the Sonics ownership group is from Oklahoma and the Sonics play in Washington, the Sonics had the right to move the case to Federal Court on ”diversity jurisdiction” grounds.
Law experts say that out-of-state parties often believe they can receive a more impartial judge and jury in Federal Court than in State Court. State Court judges are elected by the local population and possibly could be influenced by those voters. Federal Court judges are appointed by the president and are granted life tenure. They’re believed to be less influenced by the local population and the media.
I’m also hearing that this case likely will be drawn out until at least the New Year, so don’t expect to have any groundbreaking developments any time soon. Sounds like we’re in for a long ride.
In other news, Seattle City Councilman Richard McIver has been arrested on charges of domestic violence. McIver, remember, is the councilman who initiated the ordinance that was passed in mid-September that theoretically prohibits the Sonics from an early exit of their KeyArena contract agreement.
- Darnell Mayberry