Skip to content

The legal battle over the 2003 steroids list continues to drag on

Nov 10, 2009, 10:25 AM EST

The fellow to the right is Jeff Novitzky, the controversial federal agent who in 2004 led the raid on a drug lab that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled violated the constitutional rights of the baseball players who took drug tests during the 2003 steroid survey. That ruling came after a previous, smaller panel of the same court weighed in. Which itself came a couple of years after the trial court weighed in.  In other words, this thing has been dragging on forever.

Forever is about to get longer, though, because now the court is asking Players Association and the government whether an even larger, damn nigh unprecedented panel of appeals court judges should weigh in on the issue. The the court things that all 27 — yes, 27 — judges should hear the case, the thing could drag on for another two years. And that’s before the U.S. Supreme Court gets a chance to weigh in.

From a legal perspective it blows my mind that the court is so uncomfortable with its ruling — a ruling that says that the government can’t waltz into your doctor’s office with a search warrant for a specific patient’s records and walk out with the medical records of you and and your kids and your aunt Tilly and everyone.  This seems pretty basic to me, but to the extent I’m wrong and it’s not basic, it’s something that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to rule on anyway, so why not get it to them sooner rather than later?

From a steroids-in-baseball perspective we stand in the same place we have stood for many years now: the court order sealing those test results remains in place, Mr. Novitzky’s seizure of the 2003 testing records currently stands as a violation the constitutional rights of players who took those drug tests, and anyone who leaks information relating to those 2003 test results is in criminal contempt of a federal court order.

But don’t let that stop Mr. Novitzky from continuing to be promoted rather than disciplined and the ignorant from demanding that the names from the famous list Novtizky created be released all the same.

  1. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Nov 10, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    From a legal perspective it blows my mind that the court is so uncomfortable with its ruling — a ruling that says that the government can’t waltz into your doctor’s office with a search warrant for a specific patient’s records and walk out with the medical records of you and and your kids and your aunt Tilly and everyone. This seems pretty basic to me, but to the extent I’m wrong and it’s not basic, it’s something that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to rule on anyway, so why not get it to them sooner rather than later?

    Couple of questions, and forgive me as I’m not a lawyer, I just play one on TV (or not).
    If it goes to the full 27 member panel, I assume either side can still appeal to SCOTUS? If so, as you mention, why drag this on a few more years? Also, with the full 27 member seating, is it still a simple majority for the decision?
    As for the analogy to the doctor’s office, wasn’t this a slightly different situation? Wasn’t all the info kept on one spreadsheet as opposed to different files, that hopefully, your doctor would use? Or do (did) the courts not make that fine a comparison?

  2. GimmeSomeSteel - Nov 10, 2009 at 1:09 PM

    I’m not a lawyer, although I have played one on stage (sorry). I’ve also played many human roles.
    To answer your question about the full 27-member seating–Yes, a majority rules when a court sits “en banc”. This is what happens when a case is ruled on by SCOTUS. Whether their ruling is 5-4, 7-2, or 9-0 is irrelevant, and so it would be by the full appeals court.

  3. Craig Calcaterra - Nov 10, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    Gimmie is right on the procedure, though it’s worth noting that the 9th hasn’t done a full en banch for nearly 30 years, so it may be more cumbersome than usual. It’s a huge court.
    Yes, the facts were a bit different than I described rather flippantly in the post. I should have stayed away from the medical analogy because that raises other concerns. Essentially, though, it’s a situation in which the warrant says “we want info for these 10 guys” and the raid takes the info of 100 more guys because it just so happens to be in the same general area. It doesn’t pass the smell test for me, didn’t pass the smell test for the trial court or the first en banc panel of the 9th.

  4. Robrob - Nov 10, 2009 at 6:19 PM

    I would think that it all depends upon how the information is stored. If it was all in one file, and the identities of the players were all obscured in that file, then wouldn’t the government *have* to take the whole file in order to get the records of the ten players for whom they had a warrant?
    And if they *had* to take the whole file, and also *had* to decode every player’s record in that file in order to get the ten records in which they were interested, wouldn’t it be somewhat illogical for them to throw away the evidence for the other players? (This is not a rhetorical question. Really, what is the legal ruling on this type of seizure?)

  5. Joe Lobbing - Jan 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    A good background check service is almost impossible to find.

  6. jamaican blue mountain - Jan 24, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Keep up the wonderful writing. I liked reading your blog. Thanks

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Maddon has high hopes for Cubs
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. P. Sandoval (5630)
  2. J. Lester (3483)
  3. Y. Tomas (3466)
  4. H. Ramirez (2961)
  5. G. Stanton (2804)
  1. J. Upton (2631)
  2. A. LaRoche (2580)
  3. T. Hunter (2501)
  4. M. Scherzer (2252)
  5. B. Butler (1996)