Judge from Deflategate Case Declines Autograph Request from Fan

On July 19, 2018, Scott Smith, an avid Sports Illustrated magazine collector, emailed U.S. District Judge Richard S. Berman requesting his autograph on the cover of the September 14, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. According to the email, one of Smith’s lifelong passions is “collecting autographs on my covers of Sports Illustrated magazine.” According to Smith, he has the world’s largest personal collection of autographed SI magazines, about 20,000 magazines in total. His collection is allegedly well documented, he has appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine three times and he has appeared in other publications and on television. Smith has received the autographed, on the cover of the magazine, of whoever graced the cover, whether it be an athlete, president, model, or actor. However, according to Smith, never before has a judge appeared on the cover of the magazine until Judge Berman had in September 14, of 2015.

The September 14, 2015 Sport Illustrated magazine features Judge Berman, Tom Brady, and Roger Goodell in a courtroom. Smith already has Brady’ and Goodells autograph on his copy, but he humbly requested that Judge Berman to grant his small, flattering request to autograph the cover of his September 2015 Sport Illustrated magazine.

On July 23, 2018, Judge Berman respectfully declined Smiths request. According to Judge Berman’s email, he believed that his “signing may be inconsistent with the judicial code of conduct, particularly the canon (2B) which states that ‘[a] judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others[.]’ According to Judge Berman, “[n]o doubt, this is an issue of first impression. But [his] inclination and determination are to take the conservative approach” and decline Smith’s request. However, Judge Berman also mentioned that he felt “privileged to preside over” the deflategate case. He called the case “very interesting” but he noted that he remained “confident in [his] decision.” However, a “judge is in a quite different position than the parties whose case it is — and, since you have the signatures of Tom Brady and Roger Goodell you are already way ahead of the game.”

Also on July 23, 2018, Smith replied to Judge Breman’s request. Smith said, “I’ve never been more understanding in defeat than I [am] today.” Smith continued, “[w]hile I would absolutely love to add your signature to my cover[,] [I] understand the restrictions that you may be under and I certainly would never want to put you in a compromising position[.]”

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