According to the Associated Press, Judge Jed Rakoff ruled Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz must prove they acted in good faith and weren’t “willfully blind” in their investments with Bernie Madoff.
March 15, 8:20 am: A friend of MetsBlog, who is a commercial backruptcy attorney in New York, and who has no connection to the Mets, this case or MLB, sent in an e-mail saying, “Just remember that this isn’t a criminal trial – they don’t have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt. Instead, I assume the standard is “preponderance of the evidence,” i.e., 51%.”
March 14, 2012, 7:15 pm: Last week, Rakoff ruled that the Mets owners will need to go to trial and they will have to pay as much as $83 million in ‘fictitious profits.’ During the trial, trustee Irving Picard will also seek an additional $303 million.
In a report for ESPN, beat writer Adam Rubin explains:
[jbox color="gray"]“It was thought that Picard would need to prove the Wilpons were “willfully blind” to Madoff’s fraud and that they acted in bad faith in order for a jury to award that additional sum. With Rakoff’s ruling Wednesday, the burden is actually on the defense to show by a preponderance of the evidence that they were not willfully blind to the fraud.”[/jbox]
Typically in federal court, a bankruptcy attorney told Rubin, the burden of proof lies on the person bringing the lawsuit, i.e., Picard, which makes today’s ruling ‘surprising,’ the attorney said.
The trial is set to begin next Monday, March 19. According to the New York Times, both legal teams will be permitted to present a 45-minute opening argument to the jury and the trial will last 10 business days, operating Monday through Thursday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.