Tom Brady’s Deflategate Appeal and the Deadly Amtrak Train Derailment

Paul J. Cambria, Jr., a renowned criminal defense attorney and a senior partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria in Buffalo, New York, was asked by WBEN for his comments on two of this week’s trending topics. Mr. Cambria and his interviewers discussed the appeal by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady of his four-game suspension for his role in the team’s use of underinflated footballs in the last AFC Championship game. They then discussed the tragic train derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and sent more than 200 to the hospital.

Listen to the full interview at WBEN.

The commissioner as judge, jury, and executioner?

The NFL’s process of hearing an appeal like Mr. Brady’s is political, Mr. Cambria pointed out. “The popular sentiment obviously is there should have been punishment, maybe even before the Super Bowl,” he said. “So now to expect Goodell to do something differently? He might modify the penalty, but I think it’s pretty doubtful.”

If the appeal was being heard in a court of law rather than by Commissioner Goodell, Mr. Cambria was asked, would the accuser, in this case Mr. Goodell, also be able to serve as the case’s arbiter or judge?

“Obviously he couldn’t have both roles,” Mr. Cambria responded. “Plus there would be a standard of proof, there may be a hearing involved, you could take testimony on witnesses. That’s what happens in real-life court situations.”

Reckless conduct seems likely, in Mr. Cambria’s opinion

Mr. Cambria said about Brandon Bostian, the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed, “Clearly any kind of reckless conduct on his part could result in a criminal indictment . . . I think that’s why he lawyered up pretty fast, and that’s what the investigation is going to be—whether or not he acted recklessly, and if they want to charge him criminally.”

Responding to a comment about the train engineer’s phone records being subpoenaed, Mr. Camrbria said, “Of course he could be texting and driving a train. All those things are possible, [including] whether or not he fell asleep. There are a lot of possibilities.” He continued, “It’s obvious that they are looking for reckless conduct, and if they find it, they’ll be able to charge him with the deaths of these eight people.”

“[Mr. Bostian’s] lawyer would have obviously sat down with him and gone through the whole scenario and figured out where the jeopardy is on his part,” Mr. Cambria said. “If he thinks it’s defensible, that’s one thing, but you ask yourself, if he was acting as he should be, how could the train be going 109 miles an hour on a 50-mile-an-hour curve? Obviously something was going on there where he wasn’t paying attention to his job.”

“I don’t think you’re going to find intentional conduct,” Mr. Cambria noted. “They’re going to look for reckless conduct.”

About Paul Cambria

The chair of Lipsitz Green’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria also advises clients on constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.