The Swami weighs in.
[Blogmeister’s Note: If you’ve got the Heartbreak of ALA (that would be Aereo Litigation Addiction) and you’re jonesin’ for some action while you’re waiting for the Big Showdown at the Supreme Court later the spring, you’re in luck. On February 11, the U.S. District Court in Utah is going to be holding a hearing on (a) the broadcasters’ motions for preliminary injunction (here and here) and (b) Aereo’s motion to move the case out of Utah and back to the more Aereo-friendly Southern District of New York. Aereo has also filed a separate motion asking the trial judge to put the Utah case on hold until the Supreme Court acts on the Second Circuit case. The Utah court took that last motion under advisement on February 7.
There are obviously a number of moving parts here, so we called in the Swami for his thoughts on how this might shake out. Here’s his take on the various items on the table – the Aereo transfer motion, the Aereo motion to stay proceedings and the broadcasters’ motions for a preliminary injunction.]
This is pretty hard to put odds on.
Out of the three pending requests, the easiest to handicap is Aereo’s motion to move the case back the Southern District of New York, which I believe will be denied. Aereo tried the same thing in its Massachusetts case, where Judge Nathaniel Gorton denied the motion. I think the same will happen here. Depending on what eventually shakes out in the Supreme Court, moving all Aereo-related cases to a single court might make sense someday, but certainly not just now. Look for this case to stay in Utah for the foreseeable future.
Aereo probably sees it the same way, which is the reason it filed its motion for the entire proceeding to be stayed pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case. If I have to pick one way or the other – and since I’m the Swami, I guess I do – I’m going to say that Aereo’s stay motion will be granted. That would temporarily moot out the broadcasters’ motions for preliminary injunction, allowing the judge to table them without having to resolve them. At this point, if I were a District Court Judge, I wouldn’t particularly want to weigh in on something this controversial if I didn’t have to. Why run the risk of eventually being overturned, which wouldn’t help me if I’m ever up for consideration for a seat on the Court of Appeals? (And yes, some judges worry about that kind of thing because a judge’s record on appeal – affirmances vs. reversals – can come into play if and when he or she is being considered for a move to a different court.)
Of course, grant of a stay would be effectively the same as denying the broadcasters’ injunction motions, at least for the time being, thus allowing Aereo to continue to operate in the Tenth Circuit. Still, I’m guessing that the Utah District Court takes the path of least resistance and stays everything pending the outcome of the Supreme Court review.