Carolina Panthers

NFL sues to get evidence from Greg Hardy’s trial

The NFL filed suit Wednesday, seeking evidence from Greg Hardy’s earlier conviction on domestic abuse charges.
The NFL filed suit Wednesday, seeking evidence from Greg Hardy’s earlier conviction on domestic abuse charges. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

On the day Greg Hardy became a Dallas Cowboy, the NFL made it clear that the league – and Hardy – have unfinished business in Charlotte.

The NFL filed suit Wednesday, seeking the evidence gathered against the former Carolina Panther defensive end in a domestic-abuse case involving his former girlfriend. Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray was named as the defendant.

In May, Hardy was arrested at his uptown condo, accused of assaulting and threatening to kill waitress Nicole Holder. He was convicted of both misdemeanors, then appealed. Murray dropped the charges last month, saying Holder agreed to a civil settlement with Hardy and vanished.

Hardy officially left the Panthers on Wednesday, signing a $11.3 million, one-year contract with the Cowboys. However, the 26-year-old former Pro Bowler remains on the NFL’s exempt list until the league decides his punishment stemming from the domestic-abuse case. He faces a likely suspension next season, though the number of games remains up to the NFL.

That’s where the trial evidence comes in. Two days after the charges against Hardy were dismissed, the evidence was returned to the district attorney’s office and to Chris Fialko, Hardy’s attorney.

The NFL, according to its complaint, wants photographs of Holder’s injuries, the statement from a witness in Hardy’s home the night of the incident, and a photograph shot by a Hardy guest of a cache of weapons laid out on a futon in the player’s bedroom, among other exhibits.

The league first requested the items in February.

On March 11, the NFL again demanded the evidence from Murray’s office. According to a letter included with the suit, the NFL’s attorney, H.M. Whitesides Jr. of Charlotte, offered to keep the documents private and return them to prosecutors after Hardy’s punishment had been decided.

The office has not yet complied, the suit says.

The lack of cooperation violates state law and “fundamental openness and transparency in government,” Whitesides wrote. “Since all governmental action against Mr. Hardy have been concluded, there is no justifiable rationale for withholding” the evidence.

The league has asked for a prompt hearing before a judge to settle the complaint.

Murray was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. According to a released statement, the district attorney’s office has asked the attorney general to handle the case, which is typical in such matters. The office declined further comment. Staff member Joseph Person contributed.

Gordon: 704-358-5095

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