Judge To MSG’s James Dolan: Facial Recognition Defense Is “Stupidest Thing Ever”

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A Delaware judge lambasted Madison Square Garden and New York Knicks and Rangers CEO James Dolan’s defense of using facial recognition technology as the “stupidest thing ever.”

Judge Kathleen McCormick ridiculed Dolan and the team during a November 2nd Zoom court hearing.

McCormick was reacting to a letter that MSG sent to lawyers at 90 different legal firms that are currently in ongoing litigation with his properties, warning them to not step foot into the Garden.

Essentially, the notoriously known thin-skinned Knicks owner is banning his critics from being able to enjoy any shows or events at MSG-owned properties. These could include Madison Square Garden and also Radio City Music Hall, where last year a mother was forced to leave a performance of “Christmas Spectacular,” because her firm was suing Dolan. The woman herself wasn’t even involved in the litigation and doesn’t even practice law in New York.

Signs warn fans attending MSG events that they will be under surveillance. (NY Post)


But what makes Dolan’s obsession to squash any dissent even more disturbing and frankly weird and creepy, is that he has been deploying high-tech facial recognition AI software to monitor anyone who enters the grounds.

Yes, as soon as you walk into an MSG-owned building your facial features are immediately scanned and sent to an all-knowing AI algorithmic robot that is scanning it through a database that only Dolan and the Garden know what the filters are.

One of those filtering parameters has now extended to anyone that works at a firm that currently has litigation against MSG.

James Dolan has been accused of using facial recognition technology to silence critics. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)


Judge McCormick mockingly called out Dolan and lawyers for MSG who claimed that allowing plaintffs’ lawyers to enter the premises could allow for “improper disclosures,” that could affect the legal proceedings.

That didn’t sit well for Judge McCormick.

She mocked Dolan’s lawyers asinine argument. Sarcastically she responded with an exaggerated ‘response that attorneys may do “something as horrific as watch a play, a sporting event, order a hot dog, or use the bathrooms with these sorts of threatening acts.”

“I couldn’t think of a good analogy, but I thought about the tort plaintiff suing a McDonald’s or Walmart and getting a letter from those institutions saying: If you attempt to buy a Big Mac, you know, we’re going to kick you out,” the Judge continued. Before adding, “It just seemed totally crazy.”

Judge McCormick’s comments came while discussing a separate lawsuit that MSG finds itself involved in. That one involves shareholders who argue that Dolan and Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s $900 million acquisition of MSG Networks was overpaid for.


Despite the Judge calling out Dolan’s legal defense as “the stupidest thing ever,” that didn’t have an affect on his mannerisms.

Just a few days later, MSG security kicked out a Knicks fan who attended a game against the Celtics because his firm had an ongoing litigation. A few weeks later, the Radio City situation happened.

Dolan has also allegedly been using the facial recognition technology to target fans that have criticized him, and allegedly had security approach them.

This past weekend, some New York politicians rallied outside the Garden and even threatened to pull MSG’s liquor license permits if he doesn’t cease using the tech immediately.

MSG has defends its use of the technology by saying,  “While we understand this policy is disappointing to some, we cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adversarial environment.”

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.

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