Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy’s jury trial on domestic violence charges has been scheduled for Nov. 17, in the midst of the second half of the Panthers’ upcoming season.
The trial would fall a day after the Panthers’ home game against Atlanta and during their open week, although Hardy’s attorney believes the trial will be pushed back to 2015.
Earlier indications were the trial likely would start after the season.
Speaking at the team’s training camp at Wofford last month, Hardy said he didn’t want to be a distraction to the team. But a trial during the season would force Hardy’s teammates to face questions about Hardy’s status and prompt the front office and coaching staff to prepare a fallback plan if Hardy were found guilty and suspended by the NFL.
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The Panthers and the league have not announced any disciplinary measures for Hardy, who was convicted by District Judge Becky Thorne Tin last month of assaulting and threatening to kill ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder.
The Panthers have indicated they would allow NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to handle any punishment, which the team believes would be handed down after Hardy’s case is resolved.
A league spokesman said Monday that Hardy’s case remains under review.
Hardy did not attend Monday’s arraignment at the Mecklenburg County courthouse. He has appealed Tin’s decision.
Under North Carolina law, any defendant convicted of misdemeanor charges is granted a jury trial upon appeal.
Chris Fialko, Hardy’s Charlotte-based attorney, read a two-paragraph statement to reporters Monday, questioning the state’s ability to try Hardy’s case this year.
“I believe the state will try other, much older cases at the November date, and we will be assigned a jury trial date in 2015 once that master court calendar is published,” Fialko said.
“I do not think this district attorney will leapfrog Mr. Hardy’s case over the many other older ones where defendants and accusers have been patiently waiting for trial.”
Assistant district attorney Jamie Adams declined comment, citing the pending nature of the case.
Hardy’s case will be one of several scheduled to start the week of Nov. 17. Depending on where it falls on the docket and how quickly other cases are resolved, Hardy’s trial could begin at any point that week.
Because of court breaks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, if Hardy’s case is not tried the week of Nov. 17 it likely would go on the 2015 calendar.
Hardy is coming off his best season and signed a franchise tag tender in March that guarantees him $13.1 million this season.
Two months after signing the contract, Hardy was arrested following an early-morning altercation with Holder, who told authorities Hardy was upset about her brief relationship with the rapper Nelly.
Tin, in announcing her verdict last month, said the evidence convinced her Hardy beat Holder, threw her around his condo, then attempted to cover up his actions with a fabricated 911 call.
Holder told the judge she sustained bruises to her back when Hardy threw her onto a futon covered with several guns. Hardy turned over 10 guns, including at least six military-type, semi-automatic rifles, as part of a court order following his arrest.
During his testimony, Hardy said Holder swung at him, threatened to kill herself and was injured when she threw herself into the bathtub.
Following the bench trial, Holder’s attorney left open the possibility of a civil suit.
The Panthers had no comment Monday.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman last month called the allegations against Hardy “very concerning and very disappointing.”
During his only public comments since his July 15 conviction, Hardy said he regretted being a distraction to the team.
Hardy has been sidelined at training camp for the past couple of days with a shoulder injury but is expected to play in Friday’s exhibition opener against Buffalo.