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Who is Peter C. Harvey? Meet the lawyer who will rule on Deshaun Watson's suspension appeal

Lawyer Peter C. Harvey will hear the NFL's appeal of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's suspension.

CLEVELAND — On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that lawyer Peter C. Harvey will serve as his designee in the league's appeal of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension.

With that in mind, here are three things to know about Harvey, who will be tasked with making a final ruling on the punishment for Watson, who former U.S District Judge Sue L. Robinson ruled violated the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy on the following three counts:

  • Conduct that Qualifies as a Sexual Assault
  • Conduct that Poses a Genuine Danger to the Safety and Well-Being of Another Person
  • Conduct that Undermines, or Puts at Risk, the Integrity of the NFL

League ties

While Goodell opted not to rule on the appeal himself -- which the Collective Bargaining Agreement gives him the ability to do -- it isn't hard to find connections between Harvey and the league. As noted in the biography on his law firm's website, the 64-year-old is a member of the NFL's Diversity Advisory Committee, where he serves "as a consulting expert with respect to the NFL’s effort to improve racial and gender diversity in the hiring of head coaches and senior executives throughout the NFL’s 32-member clubs and League office."

Harvey is also no stranger to NFL investigations, having played a part in multiple cases. In 2017, he served as an adviser to the league in its personal conduct investigation into Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and in 2020, he served as the NFL's league-appointed arbitrator after former head coach Hue Jackson made claims that the Browns misled him during the hiring process and engaged in a "tank."

While he wasn't criminally charged -- Watson hasn't been either -- Elliott received a six-game suspension as a result of the investigation. Harvey, meanwhile, dismissed Jackson's case, based largely on a release the head coach signed following his firing.

The Garden State

In 2003, then-New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey appointed Harvey as the first African American Attorney General in the state's history. Harvey served in the role until 2006, when he resigned.

According to TheHistoryMakers.org, Harvey focused on "police reform as well as anti-gang and anti-fraud initiatives" during his three-year stint in office.

Private practive

Upon resigning, Harvey returned to practicing law privately, joining the New York City law office of Patterson, Belknap, Webb, and Tyler as a partner. According to his biography, his three decades of experience as a trial lawyer "includes significant commercial matters, frequently within the hospitality, pharmaceutical and entertainment/sports industries."

His biography also notes that Harvey was nominated to serve as the independent monitor for the Newark Police Department in 2016. He also "currently represents corporations and individuals in business disputes throughout the nation."

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