Report: Browns' Deshaun Watson Likely to Have Civil Trials Moved to 2023

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 17, 2022

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The trials for the civil lawsuits Deshaun Watson is facing are reportedly expected to be moved to 2023.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports cited "two sources familiar with communications between attorneys" Tony Buzbee, who is representing the 22 women suing the Cleveland Browns quarterback for alleged sexual assault and misconduct, and Rusty Hardin, who is representing Watson, who said the expectation is the trial proceedings will not happen until next year.

The two attorneys previously agreed to a moratorium on cases between Aug. 1, 2022, and March 1, 2023, which would encompass the upcoming NFL season.

Given the agreed-upon moratorium, the reported inability to reach an agreement on other issues such as which suit will be heard first, and the amount of discovery remaining plus Watson's scheduled depositions, the timing appears to be headed toward 2023 for the trials.

Robinson noted the biggest remaining issue when it comes to ironing out the timing is the reality that "the manner of presentation in the cases could make the trials significantly longer than expected."

If Buzbee introduces evidence from multiple allegations for individual proceedings, Hardin would then have the chance to respond to each allegation in a back-and-forth that one source said could "stretch out a trial six to eight weeks."

That is a significant time commitment if all or even most of the 22 cases end up in trial.

Multiple grand juries ruled in March that Watson would not be indicted on criminal charges. Trade discussion picked up after the first ruling, and the Houston Texans eventually moved Watson to the Browns, who then signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.

While Watson is not facing criminal charges, the NFL is still investigating and could suspend him under its personal conduct policy ahead of the 2022 season.

League officials are expected to meet with him this week, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.    


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