The Eighth District Court will hear the NFL's appeal to ending the lockout on June 3, according to NFL Network's Albert Breer. The court granted the league's request for an expedited hearing.
The NFL is appealing Judge Susan Nelson's April 25 decision to end the lockout. The league's appeal is due May 9, the players' reply is due May 20 and the NFL's reply to that will be due May 26.
We are currently awaiting the court's decision on whether or not there will be a stay of Judge Nelson's ruling between now and the appeal hearing on June 3. Judge Nelson denied the stay on the eve of the draft, temporarily opening the doors to team facilities. But those doors opened for just one day, as the appeals court granted the league a temporary stay on Friday.
Judges Steven Colloton, Kermit Bye and Duane Benton will hear the appeal on June 3. In a 2-1 decision, they granted the temporary stay (Bye dissented) and are currently deciding whether a permanent stay should be granted (which would keep the league shut down through the appeals process). The decision, which is reportedly coming before the end of the day Thursday, could open free agency and trades as soon as Friday, although more likely it would be Monday, May 9. If they grant the permanent stay, however, the lockout will be in effect until at least the end of the June 3 appeals hearing, but likely longer given it will take time — possibly weeks — to reach a decision in the case.
The way we see it
One of the most difficult parts of the litigation for fans and media is putting up with the slow pace of the U.S. court system. By granting an expedited hearing, the court showed it understands the importance of a quick decision. Even if the stay is denied and doors open next week, the 2011 season isn't certain until the appeals court makes its ruling. The hearing that begins June 3 will once and for all decide the legitimacy of the lockout, and potentially determine the future of the 2011 NFL season.