Archive for November, 2007
The Judge in overseeing the Michael Vick case has sentenced Michael Vick’s partners and now co-defendants to more time than recommended by prosecutors in a plea deal.
Purnell Peace was sentenced to 18 months in prison, the highest end of his sentencing guideline range. Quanis Phillips, a friend of Vick’s since middle school, was sentenced to 21 months, the middle range of his guideline. United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson called what happened to the dogs “a tragedy.”
Judge Hudson is known for tough sentences, and he is known to be a dog lover as well. Many people expected and still expect that Michael Vick’s co-defendants would receive a lower prison sentence than Michael Vick would. Purnell and Phillips cooperated with prosecutors and as such prosecutors recommended a lighter sentence in exchange for their evidence and promise for testimony if the case went to trial.
Judge Hudson was not subject to the prosecutors sentencing recommendations and ended up sentencing these defendants to 6 – 9 months beyond what the prosecutor recommended.
What Might Michael Vick Face?
Many people originally estimated that Michael Vick himself might face 12 – 18 months in jail. Such a sentence combined with good behavior, could have allowed Michael Vick to get out of prison in time to make training camp next summer.
We here at this site, even created a petition to send to Judge Hudson calling for the judge to reconsider the prosecutor’s plea deal as Vick appeared to plead guilty to lesser charges specifically so that he could return to the NFL someday, if not some day sooner. If the Judge’s current sentence of these defendants is any guidance, it might mean that the judge could be predisposed to sentence Michael Vick in a manner that disregards the prosecutors recommendations again.
“You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel,” Hudson told Phillips.
Judge Hudson’s words to Phillips today during sentencing.
As this case never went to trial, it could also be possible that the Judge is looking at the evidence and assigning sentences according to the crimes committed. If he sees that Phillips or Purnell committed more heinous acts than Vick, that could signify a lighter sentence for Vick. If he looks at it from the perspective that Vick was the financier and ring leader, then he could hold Vick accountable in part for all the actions of his own as well as the group that he had on salary.
Michael Vick has not been sentenced in Federal Court yet and was not tried for dog fighting in Federal Court either. His lawyers rush to negotiate a sweet heart of a deal in a plea bargain with the feds, created a nasty loophole that left Michael Vick wide open to face Virginia Commonwealth prosecution for other crimes that he committed.
Overall Michael Vick seems to have broken a lot of laws. Some of those were Federal and some were State and some might even have been broken in other states like Georgia and North Carolina.
Normally, when a person faces multi state charges like this and federal charges, the different jurisdictions eventually figure out how to consolidate things to keep the system from being over burdened with lots of court cases. In the case of multiple states, the states sometimes work to figure out which state gets to prosecute for crimes first.
Here however, the rush to a plea deal and the actual crime that Vick admitted to in the plea deal, seems to have opened up Vick for additional legal jeopardy. If he had actually been tried for the additional crimes the feds originally worked towards, Vick might have a better double jeopardy defense in Virginia. However, the case never went to trial and he ultimately plead guilty to a lesser charge.
So that left Virginia open to try him for those other crimes that do not exist on the books for the feds. He will face those charges next April (April Second, so he will avoid the April Fools day defense as well).
So for Michael Vick, one of the questions he will have to ask himself as he sits in jail awaiting sentencing, is did my lawyers get me a good deal or open me up for twice the jail time that I might have received?
Now, covering Michael Vick and this controversy has been ugly from the beginning. We initially started this site back when it looked like Vick would escape without any penalties what so ever.
This week Michael Vick turned himself into federal Marshals to start serving his time, early. The logic here is that by going to jail 20 days early the judge might reduce his time in prison (or possibly give him just enough time so that he can get out of prison in time for NFL training camp).
Having Our Cake and Eating it Too
Now, we are happy that some level of justice is being doled out here, but I do not believe anyone is really happy with the result.
On one side, Vick took a plea deal on a lesser charge and is not really going to be punished for the serious things that he did like running an illegal gambling ring that may have led to the murder of a North Carolina man, and killing and torturing dogs.
On the other side, Vick had some really bad legal advice. Go figure, the guy that in a best case scenario could not pick trust worthy friends to live in his mcmansion without getting him suspended from the NFL and sent to prison, could not find good legal representation with millions in the bank.
Despite what anyone might think about OJ, he at least picked good lawyers. Vick seems to have chosen bench warmers and one prima dona star lawyer that couldn’t deliver, maybe Vick saw something in Billy Martin that reminded him of himself.
His bad lawyers as the AJC points out, could not keep him out of Herpe Gate, they did not work with Virginia prosecutors early on and spurred on the Feds to eat their lunch, and then they didn’t even tell or enforce upon Vick the importance of not getting high on illegal drugs after he pled guilty to a federal crime.
I would like to see Michael Vick get the justice he deserves and be permanently banned from the NFL, have the plea agreement thrown out, and see Virginia continue their prosecution, but one side of me almost feels sorry for a guy that could not pick good friends, a good spouse, or good lawyers.
The only other person I can think of that has such consistent bad judgement is George Bush. If failure and mistakes were to be rewarded like Bush’s failures and mistakes, maybe Vick will come back some day as President himself.