Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy’s jury trial in his domestic violence case has been postponed from Nov. 17 until early 2015, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office announced in a statement Tuesday.
The delay in the case means Hardy is not expected to play in the NFL again this season. His Panthers career is likely over as well, according to multiple team sources.
Hardy agreed in September to be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list – essentially, a paid leave of absence – until the pending criminal charges were adjudicated, according to a league source. The agreement also states no disciplinary action would be taken against Hardy by the team or the league until the charges are resolved, the source said.
Hardy is accused of beating his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, and threatening to kill her during an early morning altercation at his uptown condo May 13. A district judge found Hardy guilty of those misdemeanor charges in July. He appealed for a jury trial.
A revised date for the trial has not been set. Last week, a source close to Hardy indicated the trial would be postponed until after the season. Tuesday morning, the District Attorney’s Office explained the move was made because of a crowded court docket.
A capital murder case that began on Sept. 16 and will continue through at least the end of this month and another homicide trial set to begin Nov. 17 limited courtroom space, and Hardy’s trial had to be pushed back, the statement said.
“The District Attorney’s Office must now adjust the dockets in several courtrooms, affecting multiple cases that had been scheduled for the coming weeks,” the statement said. “These changes will affect the Domestic Violence Team’s cases scheduled for the week of Nov. 17. A number of matters must be continued.”
Hardy, who went to his first Pro Bowl last season, has played just one game this season. He was inactive for the Panthers’ Week 2 win against Detroit and the following week he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list along with Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who faces charges of child abuse.
Hardy signed a one-year, $13.1 million contract in March after the Panthers placed the franchise tag on him, a designation under the collective bargaining agreement that allows teams to retain their top players.
While on leave, Hardy has collected more than $770,000 a week. At this point, the Panthers have paid Hardy $6.17 million not to play.
Hardy, one of the league’s top pass-rushers who tied a Panthers’ single-season record with 15 sacks in 2013, is eligible to become a free agent after the season. The free agency period begins in March, although Hardy’s legal situation could affect his market value.
On Friday, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Hardy should be allowed to return to the team if his trial would be pushed until after the season.
Under the NFL’s revamped domestic violence policy, instituted after Hardy was charged in May, first-time offenders receive a six-game suspension without pay. Rivera was asked Friday whether, in essence, Hardy had served the equivalent of the suspension, albeit with pay.
“In so many words, yes,” Rivera said.
Hardy’s Charlotte-based attorney, Chris Fialko, said he had no comment on the trial postponement.
A Panthers spokesman said the team would not comment.