The Man Who Might Save CSN Houston

Categories: Sports

csn houston.jpg
If this thing ever fully gets on the air, send a thank you note to the judge
Way back in the day, I worked as a briefing attorney for a state district court judge. And one of the things I learned was that judges, or at least the judge that I worked for, really do hate making rulings on the record because once that happens, the appeals process can start. And once the appeals process works, the litigation comes to a standstill.

But there was also this reasoning: by not making rulings, the parties must keep working with each other. They must keep meeting or talking by phone or communicating by email. And the more parties talk, the better the odds of the case settling. Settlements are good results for judges. But once the judge rules on that summary judgement motion, or orders that evidence be disallowed, or that a party be sanctioned over some stupid matter, then the parties stop talking and go into fight mode.

That's what the judge taught me, what he believed. Whether it's true in all cases I don't know. It did seem to work when I was litigating because everybody would bitch about the judges be indecisive and being afraid to make rulings, then we'd talk about the case and come to our own agreements.

Thus comes the CSN Houston bankruptcy, which right now is lingering in bankruptcy court with the judge having decided very few of the real legal issues hanging over the case. Issues like whether this matter really belongs in bankruptcy court. Or whether there should be an independent trustee running the network and negotiating deals. Or if that fraud case filed by Jim Crane against Drayton McLane and Comcast should remain in the bankruptcy court or be sent back to state court.

But Judge Isgur is handling this case like a genius. He's got issues with this thing being in bankruptcy, issues he's aired on the record. Yet he's not kicked it out because he's probably figured out that the network is history if the case is tossed out, that CSN Houston will end up filing for bankruptcy in a couple of months instead of like now, where it's some of the creditors. And knowing this, he's set things where the parties will work it out themselves, settling this thing in a relatively short time period rather than in the timeframe that would arise if the legal works were in full process.

Jim Crane was sure the working out the carriage issues would be easy. So the judge agreed to a quite unusual order that put Crane and the Astros in charge of negotiating on behalf of the network. And suddenly Crane discovered that this wasn't such a simple matter, that the providers think he's asking a tad too much for the network. And now that Crane's failed -- and due to pending concerns over conflict of interest arising from the fraud lawsuit -- the Astros have moved aside and now Les Alexander and the Rockets are in charge of negotiating the deal.

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