Michael Vick plead guilty in Federal Court today to Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture. Here’s a link to a .pdf of the plea agreement in the Vick case.
Vick will now be a convicted felon. Furthermore, the Summary of the Facts filed in Federal Court is frankly sickening. [I link to it, but don’t necessarily recommend reading it. Dog fighting is brutal and inhumane, Vick has admitted to materially participating, and that’s all you really need to know.]
My wife and I watched Vick’s public apology, and we had different reactions to it.
She found it insincere and believes, basically, that he can never be forgiven.
Yes, she’s the wife of a criminal defense lawyer, and knows what I do. She knows I have represented clients accused of (and guilty of) other heinous offenses. She is against the death penalty – although, angry about the charges, she did mention it as an option when Vick was first indicted.
She knows that a great deal of my job description often boils down to negotiating what the appropriate and reasonable punishment for my client is – it’s not always about whether or not he is guilty.
But cruelty to animals is her pet peeve when it comes to my job. She doesn’t want me to represent anyone accused of that. I can’t tell you how many Humane Society coffee cups, T-Shirts and umbrellas we have in our house.
But I have to say that I had a different reaction to Vick’s statement. First let me start with the part that bothered me about it:
You know, what I did was, what I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up…
I'm totally responsible, and those things just didn't have to happen. I feel like we all make mistakes. It's just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions. And you know, those things, you know, just can't happen.
I think it’s difficult to frame a continuing course of conduct over (at least) six years as simply ‘bad judgment’.
DWI, Assault, Shoplifting…heck, even Murder, if it’s a ‘one time thing’ can easily be characterized as using bad judgment. Labeling his own actions as ‘making bad decisions’ does indeed smack of minimizing his culpability.
However, I was actually impressed by his statement; it seemed sincere to me. It wasn’t read off of a piece of paper, it was actually delivered by him. Yes, I know that he was probably well prepared for it by lawyers and handlers. But, given the despicable conduct he was admitting to, it truly was about the best case scenario in terms of a public statement.
Now, I may be a sucker. And I’ll admit there’s no real way to know whether Vick is ‘sorry sorry’ or just ‘sorry that he was caught’.
But how should we feel about Michael Vick? Can a person change from one who enjoys dog fighting to one who accepts society’s general view that it is totally unacceptable in such a short period of time?
Is there any real way we can know whether his apology is sincere? Is it just part of a PR campaign to get him back in the NFL one day?
Well, my wife reads this blog, and I feel the need to end this on something she will consider a positive note, so…
I just donated $100 to the Humane Society. However you feel about my post, please take the time to donate as well. Even $5 here and there adds up.
And if you have any thoughts about the unanswered questions I raise, feel free to leave a comment or blog about it yourself, and email me the link.