Hardy case dismissed as accuser no-shows, NFL still may weigh in
The domestic-abuse case against Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was dismissed on Monday because the court's witness refused to testify.
Hardy was convicted at a bench trial on July 15 of misdemeanor charges of communicating threats and assaulting a female. The decision was immediately appealed and a jury trial date was set for November. After a continuance, Hardy's trial was rescheduled for Monday, but the court was never able to convince Hardy's ex-girlfriend to testify.
In a statement from Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray, court officials have taken "extraordinary measures" since November to reach Hardy's ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder, who had no desire to participate in another trial. Officials were even unable to issue Holder with a subpoena to appear.
Without the key witness, the case fell apart.
"Due to the circumstances of this case, the victim's testimony would have been critical evidence for the jury to consider," Murray said. "The victim appears to have made herself unavailable to the state."
With the dismissal, Hardy's apparent next step could be to deal with the NFL.
In the eyes of the NFL, according to multiple reports from NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy, Hardy's status with the league remains unchanged until the NFL finished its review. On Sept. 17, Hardy was placed on the NFL commissioner's exempt list, a special designation reserved for unusual league circumstances. Hardy received a normal paycheck from the team (he made $13.1 million last year), but has been suspended ever since. Hardy played in Carolina's Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that was the only time he stepped on the field in 2014.
Hardy is slated to become a free agent when the NFL's calendar flips to 2015 on March 10. Before he can test the free-agent waters, however, he may be hit with punishment from the league.
Under the NFL's code of conduct policy, Hardy could be subjected to a minimum six-week suspension. He also may simply be left on the commissioner's exempt list. Hardy's time served on the list doesn't necessarily have to be considered by the league.
When the league looks into whether or not to punish Hardy on top of the 15 games he missed in 2014, it may consider his civil agreement with Holder. According to the Associated Press, Hardy settled with Holder prior to Monday's court date. Terms have not been disclosed.
As shown with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's unwillingness to remove Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from the commissioner's exempt list even though Peterson's legal proceedings had run their course, if time served while Hardy awaited trial doesn't feel adequate, he still may be subjected to suspension from the league.
Because Hardy never had to face punishment from the legal system due to his civil settlement with his ex-girlfriend, the NFL is within its rights to keep Hardy off the playing field well into the 2015 season.