Jeurys Familia Presents An Interesting Case Under Baseball’s New Domestic Violence Policy – Forbes

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has already decided three cases under Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.  However, the next case, involving star New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia, may present the most challenging factual scenario for the commissioner to date.

On the morning of October 31, 2016, Jeurys Familia was arrested and charged with simple assault in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident in his Fort Lee apartment.  A criminal investigation then proceeded.

Six weeks later, a Fort Lee Municipal Court judge dropped all criminal charges against Jeurys Familia, stating that the pitcher’s lack of history of domestic violence and his wife’s insistence that she never felt in danger played a role in the decision.

Nevertheless, pursuant to the Major League Baseball domestic violence policy, Rob Manfred may still choose to discipline Jeurys Familia if the league independently finds “just cause” for doing so.

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 05: Jeurys Familia #27 of the New York Mets reacts in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Although past commissioner suspensions do not serve as binding precedent for future commissioner suspensions, past punishments indeed serve as reasonable guideposts under the “just cause” standard.

Moreover, according to Cari Grieb, a partner at Chapman and Cutler LLP who has studied domestic violence policies in sports, “because MLB’s domestic violence policy is still less than two years old, every early domestic violence situation Manfred is faced with, such as Familia’s, will ultimately carry significant weight in shaping future player discipline.” 

Under the current policy, Commissioner Manfred has issued three suspensions for alleged player involved in domestic violence — none of which has been appealed to a neutral arbitrator as the players’ association has the right to due under the collective bargaining agreement.

Before the start of last season, Commissioner Manfred reviewed a case in which New York Yankees closer Ardolis Chapman allegedly choked and shoved his wife, as well as fired eight gunshots into his garage wall, even though the police ultimately never pressed charges.  Commissioner Manfred suspended Chapman for 30 games.

Thereafter, Manfred issued a 52 game suspension to shortstop Jose Reyes after he was arrested and charged with hitting his wife — another incident in which charges were ultimately dropped. Meanwhile, most recently, Manfred suspended Atlanta Braves player Hector Olivera for 82 games after Olivera was arrested and charged with domestic battery.


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