Nevada Athletic Commission Accused of Holding Wanderlei Silva Hearing “Hostage”

Silva NAC rehearing screenshot

Lost in yesterday’s news of Nick Diaz’s drastically reduced suspension following his Nevada Athletic Commission marijuana saga, is Wanderlei Silva’s prolonged and ongoing battle with the Commission reaching back to a ducked out of competition drug test in May of 2014.

In short Silva ran and was issued a lifetime ban and a $70,000 fine by the Commission.  In May, 2015, Nevada District Court Judge Kerry Earley overturned the ban and fine finding that the punishment was “arbitrary, capricious and not supported by substantial evidence”.  

The Court remanded the matter for re-hearing and ordered that the Commission issue “appropriate” discipline, a task the Commission has failed to follow through with.

Although scheduled to be re-heard (for a third time) yesterday there are now further delays and Silva won’t know his fate until at least February.  It also appears that the Commission and Silva reached a consent decree (ie a settlement agreement) and the Commission then got cold feet at the last minute causing further delay over strenuous objections by Silva’s lawyer Ross Goodman.  The following exchange took place at January 12, 2016 hearing –

Goodman – Good morning, I represent Wanderlei Silva as this Commission knows.  As the commission recalls this was ordered for rehearing back in October.  The Commission then continued it to a November date setting for another rehearing and proposed approval on a proposed consent order.

The Commission then moved it, at that time, to December. The commission then took it off calendar and moved it to January.  By continuing to move this hearing for Wanderlei it is violating his due process rights.  He has a due process right to have this re-hearing heard, to bring finality to it so that he can take whatever legal recourse he wants.  But it appears, for no reason, that the Commission is moving this which should have been re-heard some 4 months ago.  So I’d like to ask the Commission what the legal basis is to move this yet a 3rd time from the date of a re-hearing?

Chairman Anthony Marnell, Jr – I’ll be perfectly straight up with you.  Executive Director Bennett and myself are not comfortable with what’s been negotiated.  So all I can tell you at this point, I understand what you’re saying, you will have a hearing in February, you can count on that. And it will be a re-hearing as mandated by the court.

Goodman –  I apprecite those comments but it is set for a re-hearing as well today so what is the legal basis for not going forward with the re-hearing today?

Chairman Anthony Marnell, Jr – We’ve had a number of changes within the athletic commission, specifically prosecutor and counsel and we’re trying to make sure that everybody that is new in these positions is up to speed.  So we can present the case, so they can re-present the case.

After a brief exchange with Commissioner Lundvall about whether Silva will be present at the re-hearing Goodman explained as follows –

Goodman ….the commission needs to re-hear this.  Its as simple as that. There needs to be finality.  You just can’t hold this hearing hostage and prevent Wanderlei from getting finality and bringing this up to the Supreme Court.  The consent decree is rejected. IT has not been accepted so we do want to go forward with the re-hearing.  You have an able prosecutor here. Its a straight forward re-hearing.   We see no legal basis why we cant go forward with the hearing.

If the Commissioner is saying because Mr. Silva is not here then I jsut want to make that clear for the record that Mr. Silva is not going to appear, it is his right not to appear he can do it through counsel.

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