Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Arbitration action: a day-by-day account

At this time I feel that I can’t share my thoughts about the outcome because it’s so fresh. I must think about the things I write. However, I will share the arbitration procedures and what I went through that week. I wasn’t the only one who went through an ordeal – one of my witnesses had something happen to her as well. Read on.

Tuesday, May 20

It was a long couple of weeks preparing for the arbitration. I drove through the night on Monday from Annapolis to Providence, arriving at 3:30 a.m. After a few hours’ sleep, I began a busy day of work with my lawyers. There’s a common saying that nobody likes lawyers until they need one. I’m definitely a new appreciator of lawyers and the American legal system. I have been really blessed to have the legal team that I do. They are all super intelligent, funny, and really believe in my case. Without them I would be unable to fight. Not to mention, they are all working pro bono, and have put in immense time and effort on my case.

I got to bed at 1:00 a.m. after all the prep work last night! The arbitration venue is the Hilton in downtown Providence.

Below is a picture of my cool volunteer legal team (and a few extras). L>R John (manager), me, Chip (litigator), Jaime (litigator), Karen (women’s RS:X competitor) and Doug (head honcho lawyer).

Wednesday, May 21

Today was not long; however it was productive for my team. We met the arbitrator today, who is from Texas, a very pleasant and intelligent person, and attentive to both our team and US Sailing’s. My team had their opening arguments today, and we were supposed to call all our witnesses today, but due to some scheduling errors most of them are arriving tomorrow. I was called as a witness and so was a witness to a photo session, and also our sail expert. After each testimony there was cross-examination with Nancy’s lawyer and also US Sailing’s lawyer. Even though I testified today, my cross-ex was to be tomorrow.

Everyone spent the evening working. The lawyers sequestered themselves in their rooms prepping for the next day, and hardly slept at all!

Thursday, May 22

After little sleep we again convened in the morning. I had tragically spilled coffee on my white shirt, so I borrowed another one from Jaime, our sharp litigator. I was hoping it would bring me some good luck.

The proceedings started with our witnesses, some of the women’s competitors who had flown in the night before. One witness, Lisa Kremer, had flown in sick. She wasn’t eating and had some nausea, but gave her testimony anyway. The proceedings continued. Because of time constraints, some of US Sailing’s witnesses were called, including one of the jury members from the original redress. It was very interesting to hear what he had to say about what happened during the original redress after the Trials in October, and fill in the missing pieces of the story. After this, lawyers from both sides participated in the closing arguments. The arbitrator called for a break, in which he would make a decision whether or not to continue the proceedings with US Sailing then presenting their case.

When we were called back into the room, the arbitrator informed us that he had made his decision. He explained that he felt the threshold for our due process claim hadn’t been met with regard to the Racing Rules of Sailing, and that Nancy would thus be the US representative to the 2008 Olympic Games. Much emotion was felt but everyone tried to repress it. My lawyers were in shock. They had fought so hard. We thanked the arbitrator, congratulated Nancy, and went upstairs to break the bad news to my manager.

After we had broken the news, we were quietly trying to assess the situation and plan the next steps when we got a phone call from Lisa Kremer’s mom. Lisa had been admitted to the Rhode Island hospital and was about to go on the operating table! Her illness had been appendicitis, and urgent action was needed. Our jaws dropped…we couldn’t believe it! She had seemed OK that morning. Needless to say, we were now in double shock. It was amazing that she had flown so far to give testimony with appendicitis. It spoke volumes for her dedication to the sport. Throughout the entire process she had done her duty as a witness not once, but twice, and endured a grueling cross-examination in the April hearings. She, along with the other women’s competitors who were witnesses, truly felt the dispute had been a black mark on the sport of windsurfing. She was willing to do what she had to clarify the situation of the Olympic Trials and had suffered for it. My team all felt that she was the true hero of the day!

Once again it had been a crazy trip to Providence, but it hadn’t killed any of us in body or in spirit. I’m relieved that the legal fight is over, even though the outcome was disappointing. There’s still a good deal of cleaning up to do, and that’s what we’re working on now. I plan on continuing to campaign through 2012 and will be back in Europe in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to the new adventures that will come!


No comments:

Post a Comment