Pets

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe plea hearing for the embattled star quarterback took place this morning. One of Michael Vick’s lawyers, Billy Martin, spoke to reporters on the courthouse steps. He stated that “this matter is concluded until December 10th, when Judge Hudson will sentence Michael Vick according to the plea agreement.” He also announced that Vick will make a statement of his own at 11:30 AM today.
At the hearing, Judge Henry Hudson told Michael Vick something along these lines: “You know you’re taking your chances here. I’m not bound by the recommendations [of the parties].”
A correct statement of the law, especially after Booker? Yes. A smart thing for a judge to do at a plea hearing, to prevent the defendant from later claiming he was blindsided? Sure.
But, reading the tea leaves a bit, we’d hazard a guess that Judge Hudson might give Vick significantly more than the 12 or so months that the parties will recommend (per the plea agreement). Stay tuned.
(We’d guess that the parties will recommend a year and a day, which will make Vick eligible for certain “good time” credits applicable only to sentences over a year.)

The plea agreement (PDF) for star quarterback Michael Vick has been filed in federal court. In the statement of facts (PDF) accompanying the agreement, Vick admits involvement in the dogfighting conspiracy (including funding it), but declines to admit a number of other allegations. According to ESPN, Vick claims that he “did not place side bets and did not receive proceeds from purses from the fights.”
Here’s what the agreement provides with respect to sentencing:
Michael Vick plea agreement Above the Law blog.jpg
Assuming zero criminal history, an adjusted offense level of 13 gives you an imprisonment range of 12 to 18 months. Of course, and as noted in the agreement, the sentencing judge is not bound by the guidelines (thanks to Booker).
What’s next in procedural terms, from CNN:

Vick, 27, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday, where he is expected to plead guilty before a judge. The judge in the case will have the final say over the plea agreement.

Presiding over Vick’s case is Judge Henry Hudson, a Bush II appointee to the bench and a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (under Bush I). He has an impressive resume, but we don’t know much about him personally. We welcome your thoughts on Judge Hudson in the comments.
Vick files plea agreement admitting to dogfighting [ESPN.com]
Vick admits dog killing, conspiracy [CNN]

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWoof woof! This just in, from Fox News (via AFP via Drudge):

The lead attorney for pro football star Michael Vick said Monday that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback will plead guilty to dogfighting and related charges and will “accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made.”

Billy Martin, heading up Vick’s legal team, issued the following statement:

“After consulting with his family over the weekend. Michael Vick ask that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with Federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him. Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of Guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologizes again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter.”

Especially all the poor pooches, God rest their doggie souls.
But wait — are we sure about this?

The statement apparently took federal officials by surprise.

Jim Rybicki, a spokesman for U.S. States Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, said he had not heard of an agreement in the Vick case, and that he was trying to reach prosecutors.

We’ll keep you posted.
Update: This looks solid; CNN has this report. Apparently a status conference is taking place this afternoon.
Vick Attorney Says Star Quarterback Will Plead Guilty in Dogfighting Case [Fox News]
Vick agrees to plea deal, prison possible [CNN]

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThings aren’t look so hot for football star Michael Vick right now. See here and here.
Despite the incriminating statements of his co-defendants, Vick still hasn’t reached a plea agreement with the government. Rumor has it that there’s a split among Vick’s lawyers about whether to take a plea deal.
After the jump, we post an analysis from a reader suggesting that, under the applicable Sentencing Guidelines (which are of course advisory post-Booker), Vick shouldn’t necessarily serve prison time.
But we suspect that the feds wouldn’t allow Vick to get off without some prison time (at least a year). And if Vick doesn’t plead guilty to the current indictment, they’ll nail him with a superseding indictment that includes RICO charges (which will vastly ramp up his exposure if convicted).
Check out this reader’s analysis, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Michael Vick: His Co-Defendants Are Barking Up A Storm”

Mike Nifong small Michael Nifong Michael B Nifong Michael Byron Nifong Above the Law maybe not.JPGQuite literally. From TSG:

In a pathetic end to the Mike Nifong saga, the disgraced North Carolina prosecutor who handled the Duke rape investigation has turned in his law license, noting that he never framed or displayed the document because it had been damaged “by a puppy in her chewing stage.”

Additionally, in an August 7 letter to the North Carolina State Bar, Nifong noted that the law license also contained a misspelling of his middle name (which is Byron).

From the tipster who drew this to our attention: “Astounding.” But sadly appropriate, too.
Nifong: The Dog Ate My Law License [The Smoking Gun]

Bar Exam Lolcats Facebook Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgTo everyone sitting for the bar exam today (or later this week): Good luck!
Relax; you’ll be just fine. We’re sure that you’ll pass, with flying colors.
Even if you don’t, no worries. You can take the bar again. Lots of famous and successful people didn’t pass the first time around. (Or even, say, the thirteenth time around.)
And if you don’t pass, that could be a blessing in disguise. It could constitute your million-dollar payday!
(Or maybe your $9.75 payday. That’s good for at least two beverages at Starbucks, even after they hike prices later this summer.)
Bar Exam Lolcats [Facebook]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bar exams (scroll down)

Michael Vick dog dogfight Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFrom ESPN.com (gavel bang: commenter):

In another [Michael] Vick-related matter, the quarterback’s camp has begun interviewing candidates to beef up his legal defense team in the event he goes to trial [on federal charges of conspiracy related to an alleged dogfighting venture].

Vick’s longtime personal attorney, Lawrence Woodward, is expected to remain part of the defense team, but advisors have urged that the Falcons star consider adding counsel with experience in the federal courts.

The Vick camp has solicited recommendations and is believed to have interviewed at least one prominent defender from the prestigious Washington, D.C., firm of Wilmer Hale.

And from a second commenter:

WilmerHale for Vick? Wow, doesn’t seem like a dog-fighting defense shop. They do white collar defense, but that’s a different ball game. From their website: “We have defended clients against allegations of insider trading; securities, healthcare, accounting and government contracts fraud; criminal antitrust violations; money laundering; and alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other statutes.”

So, any speculation as to which WilmerHale lawyer is being considered by Team Vick? Or a recommendation of a top “dog-fighting defense shop” for the embattled sports star?
NFL, Falcons could ask Vick to focus energies in court [ESPN.com]

Michael Vick dog dogfight Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Who let the dogs fight? Who? Who? Feds say: football star Michael Vick. [CNN; TSG]
* Bar-Bri class reps (no, different class reps): No incentive payments for you. [The Recorder]
* Seven-figure legal bills: par for the course for white-collar criminal defendants. [WSJ Law Blog]
* India market hot for law firms. [Law.com]
* Billionaire Siebel gets California Supreme Court’s ok to sue lawyer and judge despite settlement. [The Recorder]
* UK girl loses fight to wear purity ring at school. Chastity belt still under review. [MSNBC]
* Ohio Turnpike murder-for-hire case could result in death sentence. [CNN]

* Wow, talk about passive-aggressive behavior. (The husband, not the wife.) [Island Packet]
* The FTC may be good at many things, but creative punny language is not one of them. [Truth on the Market]
* Sexual harassment: once a dog, always a dog. [Reuters / Oddly Enough]
* I blame the same wiring responsible for guys’ breasts-as-stimuli reaction for the double take on that guy with the Che Guevara neck tatt. Reflex trumps judgment. [Agoraphilia]

dog crap dog poo dog poop dog feces Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a development that has Colorado prosecutors saying “oh crap” — quite literally. From the Rocky Mountain News:

A former Democratic Party activist who left dog feces on the doorstep of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s Greeley office during last year’s 4th Congressional District campaign was found not guilty Wednesday of criminal use of a noxious substance.

So what happened? Did the prosecution fail to establish the element of noxiousness?

Ensz’s lawyers never denied that their client left a Musgrave campaign brochure full of feces at the front door of the congresswoman’s office. But they argued that Ensz was making a statement protected by free speech – the poop was a symbol of what she thought of Musgrave’s politics.

“Her only intention of going over there was to make a political statement that Marilyn Musgrave’s politics stink,” attorney Shannon D. Lyons said after the verdict.

Is feces flinging the flag burning of the future?
Woman acquitted of illegal poop use [Rocky Mountain News]

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