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Home Cookin'

When I say "home cookin'," I don't mean that there was some undue influence in a Supreme Court Justice's decision to change venue of the Jim Boeheim defamation case from New York County to Onondaga County.  I simply mean that if the case goes to trial, Boeheim will get to stay around town and enjoy Juli's delicious home cookin'.  She has a great recipe for a cheesy ranch dip!

But seriously, Justice DeJoseph's ruling on Wednesday is a huge victory for the Boeheim/SU team.  All "home court advantage" references aside, you always want to try cases in a friendly court.  Now, by and large, this case involves a bunch of out of town lawyers, who probably have little or no experience in Onondaga Supreme Court.  So there is no advantage there, on either side.  But I think this ruling better meets the ends of justice, since a local court (with a local jury) can solve a local dispute.

The fact of the matter is, nobody outside the parties, lawyers, and some Syracuse fans care about this case.  If I'm on a Manhattan jury hearing this case, I'm thinking it's a waste of my time.  I'm thinking "Why am I hearing this case?  This has nothing to do with NYC."  And that, at its core, was the argument of the defense: venue was not proper in NYC.  No parties reside there.  The alleged tort (defamation) didn't occur there.  The law in New York states that venue is proper in the county in which at least one party resides.  If you're keeping score at home: Onondaga - Boeheim, SU, Davis; Oswego - Lang; New York County - zero.

So really, the burden was on the plaintiffs -- Davis and Lang -- to show that they could not get a fair trial in Onondaga County, where venue would otherwise be proper.  And this is exactly what the Court zeroed in on: could they prove they would not get a fair and impartial jury?  Not a probably.  Not a maybe.  Justice DeJoseph said in his decision that the arguments against venue in Onondaga County "equate to nothing more than mere beliefs, suspicions, and a feeling of possible bias.  This is insufficient to retain venue in New York County."

Though plaintiff's attorney Gloria Allred, when reached for comment, said that the change of venue doesn't change her resolve, and that they will continue to fight on, it's clearly a big blow to her case.  She wanted to try this case in the big lights of the Big City.  She wanted to be able to wake up at 8am, call an 11am press conference, and have a ton of cameras there.  Not quite so easy to do that when she's in Syracuse.  She wanted to take advantage of NYC juries, who typically award a much higher amount of damages than other counties.  That in large part is due, of course, to the different standard of living.

But really, let's not kid ourselves.  This case will never be in front of a jury.  The change of venue, while important, will ultimately have no bearing on this case.  Next up is the motion to dismiss, filed by the defense with the Court in NYC.  All papers filed there will be transferred to Onondaga, to be scheduled there.  If this case survives that motion to dismiss, which we've surmised it won't, then I would imagine the parties step up the efforts at discussing a settlement.  The terms of any settlement will never be made public -- whether or how much money exchanged hands, or anything else.  Or, at least, I assume that would be the term of any settlement reached.

But what do I know?  Sean Keeley and his commenters at have this all figured out!

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