Panic Street Lawyer: Mr. Tough and Legal Man

Sunday, 14 July 2013 06:00 AM Written by  Jay Hornack

20130714sm yoletengo490

Two acts performed outdoors last night at Stage AE, a venue located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh: Yo La Tengo and Belle & Sebastian. These critically acclaimed indie rock/pop musicians with loyal fan bases come from very different backgrounds. Yo La Tengo was founded in Hoboken, while Belle & Sebastian (the group, not the French TV series) hails from Glasgow.

The hometowns of these two bands are located within larger geographic jurisdictions that, interestingly, have been in the news the past few weeks for two different sports stories that have legal twists to them. And while these two stories are not directly related to either of the aforementioned musical acts, the two main characters in these stories can be fairly described by the two song titles that I borrowed from Saturday night’s set lists.

New Jersey

The sports news out of The Garden State has not been good as of late. The NBA Nets left for Brooklyn last year, the NHL Devils have been “struggling” (off the ice now, and on the ice very soon), and the Rutgers University athletic program has been “embarrassed” by scandals. Good thing they will be hosting the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII outdoors this coming February 2 – what could possibly go wrong with that from a meteorological standpoint?

20130714wap chrischristie150Gov. Chris Christie. Associated PressThe PSL New Jersey sports story – in the aftermath of a loss, appropriately enough – actually has a Philadelphia dateline. On June 26, oral argument took place before a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of NCAA et al. v. Governor of New Jersey, et al. This is the governor’s appeal of a federal district court ruling that the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) did not violate New Jersey’s right to allow some form of pro and college sports betting. The lower court said PASPA was a proper exercise of Congressional power to prohibit sports gambling in every state but those four (Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana) that allowed it twenty years ago.

The lead defendant-appellant in this case, Governor Chris Christie, has “doubled down” on gambling as part of the state’s economic development plan, particularly in Atlantic City. In addition to fighting to bring sports betting, Christie recently signed a bill to allow gamblers to place bets online at Atlantic City’s casinos.

Christie, a 50-year-old former U.S. attorney born in Newark and educated in Livingston, is famous for his bravado. He says he would appeal an unfavorable decision by the Third Circuit in this case to the United States Supreme Court. The Third Circuit’s decision should be announced sometime later this year.

No U.S. court ruling will affect sports wagering in Great Britain, where it is legal for more than football (soccer). For example, it was perfectly legal in the United Kingdom to bet on the outcome of matches at the 2013 Wimbledon professional men’s and women’s tennis tournament. At this year’s championship, the gambling industry lost $22.35 million -- on one player.

20130714sm belesebastian490Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch performs at Stage AE. Scott Mervis/Post-Gazette


Sports fans in this part of the world put news from the football transfer market on the back burner while they followed 26-year-old tennis pro Andy Murray all the way to his men’s singles championship. That straight sets finals win last Sunday, which caused the breaking of a U.K. Twitter record, was the first for a British man at Wimbledon in 77 years.

20130714wap murray150Andy Murray at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner in London. AP/InvisionMurray was born in Glasgow and attended school in Dunblane, and those biographic facts were very important to many people in Scotland last Sunday. That is because in a little over fourteen months, Scots will be asked if they want to break away from the U.K. and become an independent country.

A discussion of the mixing of sports and politics (FYI, Christie is part Scottish) also came up following Murray winning a gold medal for Team GB at the Games of the XXX Olympiad (London 2012). For his part, Murray has been cautious and unemotional in his most recent comment on the upcoming referendum – although the language he used was rather, uh, “colourful.” Scots will have opportunities on home soil to cheer for Scottish athletes besides Murray between now and next September: the British Open at Muirfield Golf Links is next week, and the XX Commonwealth Games are in Glasgow next summer.

The legal framework for the holding of the Scottish independence referendum on September 18, 2014 – five days before the start of Scotland hosting the Ryder Cup for only the second time ever -- was the result of the “Edinburgh Agreement,” reached in October 2012 between U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond.

If that was not enough of a second sports story with a legal twist, then feel free to read an advice piece “For the Lawyers Negotiating the Other Side of Andy Murray’s Sponsorship Deals.”

(Top image: Yo La Tengo frontman Ira Kaplan at Stage AE. Scott Mervis/Post-Gazette)

The Panic Street Lawyer is a personal opinion column by attorney Jay Hornack. Contact him right here at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow Jay on Twitter: @panicstlawyer

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