San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s attempt to get an in-person meeting with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was rejected this week. Selig preferred that the City continue to work with and make inquiries through his committee, now in its fourth unproductive year.
Reed expressed frustration at Selig’s rejection, vaguely hinting at a ratcheted up legal threat. It’s definitely a defeat on Reed’s part. If Selig’s decision effectively called Reed’s bluff, it’s to Reed to make good on the bluff. Reed’s termed out in 18 months, so if he wanted to bare some teeth, now would be a good time to do so.
Speaking of lawsuits, the Stand for San Jose suit had its Motion to Disqualify Counsel hearing today. Judge Joseph Huber had difficulty understanding the reasoning for the motion, explaining that the privileged documents that are at the center of the debate were already returned by Pillsbury are not part of the record, and will have no bearing on the case. Judge Huber asked Perkins Coie attorney Geoffrey Robinson if he was supposed to guess if and what privileged details made into the S4SJ’s case. Robinson said that the documents could shape the case even if the documents are not part of the record. (Judge Huber took over the case for Judge Patricia Lucas, who was appointed to the 6th District Court of Appeals by Governor Jerry Brown last fall.)
Switching to the other side, Judge Huber quite severely admonished Pillsbury for its previous behavior in the case, Pillsbury’s Ronald Van Buskirk argued that the firm was merely doing its job to make the best case for its client, and that the attorneys were only “exposed” to the documents and shouldn’t be disqualified just for exposure. Of course, they previously made a motion to augment the case using those documents, so that argument may fall on deaf ears.
The big takeaway is that both sides recently agreed upon a schedule for briefs, which means that a trial date is coming soon. The attorneys will have a few weeks to prepare their briefs. A trial date should be set shortly. Van Buskirk indicated that the plaintiff’s case would be solid thanks to questions about airport impacts, which to me sounds flimsy based on what I’ve read and the fact that taller or similar height structures already exist closer to the flight path, such as HP Pavilion.
Judge Huber will make his decision on the motion to disqualify early next week. If Pillsbury is thrown off the case so close to trial, it would be huge blow and force a delay to bring in new counsel and get them up to speed. If Huber throws out the motion, at least we’ll finally get to see this trial move forward, which would clear up at least one major issue that’s probably causing MLB to delay any decision regarding San Jose and territorial rights. I’ve been of the opinion for some time that MLB will not grant San Jose anything until the land deal is locked in and secured. The Giants know this, which explains why they’ve aggressively gone after San Jose in the courts and through the State Controller’s redevelopment clawback efforts. It’s the new Moneyball.