KidsportsmtTop NewsJa Morant Lawsuit: Self-Defense Ruling Shifts Burden
KidsportsmtTop NewsJa Morant Lawsuit: Self-Defense Ruling Shifts Burden
Top News

Ja Morant Lawsuit: Self-Defense Ruling Shifts Burden

In a significant development favoring Ja Morant, a Tennessee judge ruled on Monday that the Memphis Grizzlies superstar adequately raised self-defense in a lawsuit filed by a teenager he punched in July 2022. This ruling, disclosed in a court filing obtained by ESPN, follows a civil immunity hearing held in December 2023 in Memphis.

During the hearing, Morant testified that he “swung first” at Joshua Holloway, then 17 years old, in an effort to protect himself during an altercation that led to Holloway filing a lawsuit in September 2022 accusing Morant of assault. The altercation arose during a pickup basketball game when Holloway, reportedly frustrated by consecutive losses, allegedly threw a pass at Morant, striking him in the face.

Morant claimed that Holloway then advanced toward him, prompting Morant to step forward and punch him. Following this, Morant’s friend, Davonte Pack, also punched Holloway, resulting in Pack’s arrest for misdemeanor assault. However, the charge against Pack was later dismissed.

In the recent court filing, Shelby County Circuit Judge Carol Chumney determined that Morant “enjoys a presumption of civil immunity” under Tennessee’s self-defense immunity statute. Consequently, the burden of proof now shifts to Holloway and his legal team to demonstrate that Morant did not act in self-defense. A trial initially scheduled for late April is likely to be rescheduled for a later date.

Rebecca Adelman, Holloway’s attorney, expressed disappointment with the ruling, stating that they will continue advocating for Joshua. Morant’s attorneys have not yet responded to requests for comment.

This lawsuit had loomed over Morant, 24, during a tumultuous 2023-24 NBA season. He began the season serving a 25-game suspension imposed by the NBA for conduct detrimental to the league after a video surfaced in May 2023 showing him with a firearm. Earlier, in March 2023, Morant received an eight-game suspension for posting an Instagram Live video in which he displayed a handgun at a Denver nightclub. He apologized for both incidents.

Upon his return from suspension in December 2023, Morant played just nine games before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. His absence, coupled with injuries to other teammates, disrupted what had initially appeared to be a promising season for the Grizzlies, who finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference the previous season. Presently, the Grizzlies hold a 27-51 record, ranking third-worst in the Western Conference.

A clarification is provided: The judge’s ruling implies that Morant is presumed to have acted in self-defense, shifting the burden of proof to the plaintiff to disprove this, rather than requiring Morant to prove his self-defense claims.

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