As you've no doubt heard, Geno Auriemma has found himself in a spot of legal trouble. It's a serious allegation, and something we'll be following closely on the blog, but while perusing a recent Hartford Courant story on the matter I came across the name of the firm representing Kelley Hardwick, Auriemma's accuser. The article seemed a bit strange to me -- it focused on the possibility of calling former UConn players as witnesses, a topic of discussion that seems wildly premature at the moment -- so I googled its main source, Randolph McLaughlin, a lawyer at small New York law firm called Newman Ferrara LLP.
There, I found out two things: The first is that suing that this isn't McLaughlin's first time suing the NBA over a security issue. Six months ago the NBA was sued by a former security director named Warren Glover, who alleged that he was fired because he stood up to sexual harassment in the league and was fired in retaliation. As you've probably put together by now, McLaughlin was Glover's lawyer, and of course it's hard not to notice that his claim is rather similar to Hardwick's. That's not meant to be a comment on the merits of either claim -- its certainly not unimaginable that the NBA has a sexual harassment problem -- but it is worth noting that this is territory that McLaughlin has covered this territory before. It's also worth pointing out that McLaughlin has quite the resume (he's a law professor, a Harvard law grad, and has a few solid wins on his record).
Now, if I just looked at McLaughlin I'd be rather impressed and inclined to take this quite seriously. But then I googled his law firm, which doesn't have quite the same impressive internet presence. As with any self-respecting firm, the first google result was the firm's website. That's fine. But then I got to the second result, which included this:
Newman Ferrara LLP today announced that the firm has launched an investigation into possible corruption and suspicious conduct involving boxing promoter Bob Arum and certain officials of the World Boxing Organization (WBO), which governed and sanctioned the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 9, 2012.
Viewers, commentators, boxing experts, and book makers were shocked when Bradley was named victor when the fight ended unmistakably in Pacquiao's favor. Suspicions were raised further by the pre-fight conduct of Arum, a promoter for both fighters, who had already scheduled a re-match for November - an event which could only be profitable if Bradley was named victor in the first bout. In addition to other scrutiny about his conduct, in 1995, Arum paid a substantial penalty for trying to bribe the International Boxing Federation to sanction a fight.
Individuals who paid up to $65 to watch the match on Pay Per View or similar broadcasting networks have the right to expect a legitimate, uncorrupted bout. Concerned viewers of the fight who paid the Pay Per View fees are encouraged to contact Newman Ferrara partner Jeffrey M. Norton at (212) 619-5400 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this investigation, their rights, or potential remedies.
So yeah, forgive me if I'm just a little bit skeptical about the goals of this particular partnership (it didn't help that their third result was this, and that this was the fourth). Could those all be valid legal complaints? Sure. Do they seem more like attention/money grabs? I'll leave that to you to decide.
None of this is meant to belittle the very serious accusations against Auriemma. This is an area McLaughlin knows, and if there is a valid claim he would seem to be the go-to lawyer to handle it. I have no doubt UConn's (and the NBA's and USA Basketball's) lawyers are already working overtime looking into this.
But any sort of final judgment is a a long way off. This is still early. Auriemma has had very little to say, and from what I've seen the NBA and USA Basketball have said even less. As fans we'll just have to sit back and see how it all plays out.