Eli Manning is currently being sued by memorabilia collectors who claim the Giants quarterback has been involved in a years-long scheme to pass off regular helmets, jerseys, and other pieces of apparel as game-used items. They claim an equipment manager routinely beat up unused items to make them look like they had been used in a game, and that Eli was in on it.
Now, it appears the scandalous case has taken another dramatic turn, as Newsday reports that the honorable Judge James J. DeLuca of Bergen Superior Court has been a Giants fan for decades, and is even an owner of two PSLs that the Giants sold to finance their stake in MetLife Stadium. And: he admitted this in open court. The pertinent part, from Newsday:
DeLuca took over the case in May 2015. During a hearing with attorneys for both litigants, he revealed he was a fan of the team and had purchased two PSLs at MetLife Stadium.
According to a transcript of the hearing included in the filings, the judge said, "I purchased the PSLs. They're in my name. My son pays for the tickets. I go to one or two games a year and I only go to the 1 o'clock games. I have also followed the Giants since the late 1950s, early 1960s."
Only the 1 o'clock games—pro move.
That same month, plaintiffs filed a motion requesting that Judge DeLuca recuse himself based on his fandom. In a June 2015 decision, DeLuca declined to do so saying "The courtroom is not a football field or a stadium where one attends games for entertainment. Rather, it is the place where the law is applied to the facts and evidence presented; and, after due deliberation and consideration, determinations are made."
The good judge is correct, obviously, but that doesn't mean this doesn't look goofy. There's nothing that says a judge can't be a sports fan, and as Gabe Feldman pointed out in the Newsday piece, there are probably any number of Giants (or Jets) fans donning black robes in the metro-New York area. Fandom does not automatically create bias, but also, it is important to note that fandom is also not rational, like, at all. It is very hard to square the insanity of being a football fan, with the rationality and precise clarity of thought required to be a judge.
The Giants argued against the motion and requested that DeLuca stay on as judge, but really, it might have been smarter to join the movants because if they do eventually win at trial—a previously scheduled trial date was postponed and not re-scheduled—this matter could be prolonged by an appeal based on judicial bias. It might have actually been worth it for the judge to sit this one out.