On October 19, 2015, Major League Baseball and its co-defendants quickly responded to a letter written by baseball fans to Hon. Judge Scheindlin asking for permission to depose Commissioner Robert Manfred. While the fans in the antitrust lawsuit are seeking to depose the Commissioner in regards to MLB broadening the topics Mr. Manfred is to testify to at trial, the defendants responded with some rather convincing arguments to Judge Scheindlin in opposition.
First, MLB argues that the fans should not be able to depose the Commissioner at this stage in the litigation process because they had known that Manfred had been elected to baseball’s highest position back in 2014, assuming office this past January, and yet never tried to depose Manfred earlier. In fact, as MLB continues, it’s been more than two months since the plaintiffs knew as to what Manfred would testify to at trial. The defendants served the plaintiffs with their Supplemental Disclosures this past August, and even then plaintiffs did not object to the new disclosures nor seek to depose Manfred.
Another reason the MLB gives to oppose Judge Scheindlin ordering the deposition is that the expanded topics Manfred will be testifying to have already been asked and answered by Manfred’s predecessor, Bud Selig, in his own deposition dating back to January 3, 2014. Citing to specific sections of Selig’s transcript to show examples of the same or similar answers given, MLB does not believe that deposing Commissioner Manfred will produce any new information that the fans do not currently already possess.
As well, by allowing a deposition this late after the discovery period has ended would actually be harmful and prejudicial to the MLB defendants, they conclude, because they are intensely preparing for trial and would have to postpone preparation in order to comply with any court ordered deposition.
It is currently unknown when Judge Scheindlin is expected to make her decision.