By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former Ravens running back Ray Rice could soon return to the NFL. Rice remains suspended indefinitely after video surfaced of him striking his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The NFL Players Association is appealing Rice’s suspension—and now a date for the hearing has been set.

Rick Ritter has more.

Dates are set for November 5 and 6.

Some people felt Rice would never play again in the NFL, but if reinstated in November, it’s believed the former Raven could sign with another team this season.

An appeal hearing turned up the heat on the Ray Rice controversy yet again.

“I just want it to be over with and I think the fans want it to be over with,” said a Ravens fan.

The NFL Players Association is appealing Rice’s indefinite suspension.

Commissioner Roger Goodell first suspended the former Raven two games for punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer inside an Atlantic City casino elevator—but once TMZ released video from inside the elevator February, the Ravens cut Rice and the league banned him indefinitely, claiming it was new evidence.

“It was clear there was an act of domestic violence but it was inconsistent with the way he described what happened,” Goodell said.

The NFL Players Union argues Rice was punished twice for the same crime.

“What in criminal law would be called double jeopardy and in civil law, it’s called collateral estoppel or res judicata,” said local attorney and law professor Byron Warnken. “You can’t change it retroactively later and say, `You know what? We didn’t give him enough punishment.'”

Rice’s legal team will argue that, even under the new NFL domestic violence policy and as a first time offender, Rice’s maximum suspension should be six games—which has already passed.

In addition, they say the video of Rice’s actions were available to the team and and league before it went public—something the Ravens denied in September.

“Last week, it was our competence being questioned, mostly. Now it’s integrity,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

A former US district judge was chosen as the neutral arbitrator for the hearing—meaning she’ll rule, not Commissioner Goodell.

Many legal experts believe Rice’s case is strong and the former Raven could be playing again in just a few weeks.

“Legally speaking, he probably wins because he’s entitled to his punishment,” Warnken said. “I think he has a very good shot.”

In reinstated, another team would have to sign Rice. The question is, what team would be willing to bring him on?

A decision on whether Commissioner Goodell will testify at the hearing is expected later this week.

The NFL’s investigation into its handling of the case is still ongoing. That’s being handled by former FBI chief Robert Mueller.

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Rick Ritter

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