Michael Vick Opts to Start Prison Sentence Now

Michael Vick doesn't face sentencing for his dog-fighting case until December 10. But he decided to start serving the sentence today.

I'm not getting this. Why would he want to serve three weeks in a county jail instead of a federal prison camp? Why does he want to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in prison? He would likely have gotten a voluntary surrender to the designated institution on December 10, putting the start of his sentence off until January. I don't think it will have a major impact on the sentencing judge, and he's still facing state felony charges.

Maybe he's feeling like he's just wasting time while waiting and would rather get out sooner, even if just by three weeks.

Or could the reason be financial...to make it harder for him to be personally served with lawsuits?

Financial troubles have further sullied Vick's image: He's being sued for more than $4 million by banks claiming he defaulted on loans and might have to repay nearly $20 million in NFL signing bonus money.

< Poll: Giuliani Slides in New Hampshire | CBS News Writers May Be Next to Strike >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Jeralyn doth protesteth too much (none / 0) (#1)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 12:08:45 AM EST
    First, time in custody counts towards the sentence.

    Second, this is a ploy towards favorable sentencing:

    "Mike Tyson Sentenced to One Day on Coke, DUI Charge"

    Third, many states have debt discharge civil clauses, for those actually in custody....

    of course (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 12:14:55 AM EST
    the time counts, that's not the point. I don't believe it will affect the judge's decision.  And I doubt his lawyers think it will help. The timing of the holidays makes it even more curious.

    He's doing 3 weeks in a county jail -- it makes no sense unless it's to avoid service of process on civil litigation. I don't think you can discharge debts because you are in prison. I suspect at most you might be able to stop collection efforts -- but he doesn't have judgments against him for this, only lawsuits hoping for a judgment.


    If I had (none / 0) (#26)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 02:50:24 PM EST
    a process server who couldn't find someone in the county jail, they'd be fired so fast their head would still be spinning NEXT Tuesday.

    It may have (none / 0) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 06:48:38 AM EST
      more to do with his release date under his anticipated sentence. He meay have reason to think that if he starts early he'll be out in time to be available to play next season if reinstated.

     I doubt it has anything to do with with expecterd civil actions.  An inmate can be sued and the plaintiff can ask a court to appoint a guardian ad litem to accept service on behalf of the incompetent (incarcerated) defendant) and protect his interests if the defendant has not chosen to establish a guardianship voluntarily.

      I agree the decision is unlikely to be considered by a judge to be indicative of extraordinary rehabilitation or AOR and result in a better sentence, but it may be to his advantage career-wise.

    Michael Vick (none / 0) (#4)
    by pax on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 06:56:37 AM EST
    According to ESPN...they think he's going to get one year.  Which would mean he would serve 10 months, the last month being in a halfway house.  So that would put him in the halfway house in August, which would allow him to practice football with a team.  

    So it's all about playing football, presuming that ESPN has it right.

    this makes (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:20:25 AM EST
    the most sense, I think you're right.

    As to "avoiding civil process" - (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 07:02:05 AM EST
    that's a non-issue.  It is relatively easy to serve papers - suits, subpoenas, whatever - in civil lawsuits on the incarcerated.  Oftentimes, the hardest part is finding which government office is the one which accepts the process for delivery to the inmate, and that can take only a couple phone calls.  The hardest thing I've run into is getting a habeas ad test. for non-party witnesses in civil cases - and that's more a matter of going to the judge and laying out the motion papers.  Those are routinely granted - it's the coordination of getting the inmate from prison to courtroom that's the bear, if only because it's a non-routine movement.

    Second, I can't see incarceration being the basis for a discharge of indebtedness, nor for a toll on the statute of limitations.  I've never heard of a discharge of indebtedness (and its existence would surely have come into the sights of the "no cable TV and no exercise" tough guys before now).  The toll of the statute of limitations probably can happen under some states' law - that's purely a matter of state law and surely varies from state to state.

    Plus, if it's a suit on a note - those are practically un-defendable.  

    As to the credit against time served - that's obviously true.

    My thought is that his reasons are twofold - (a) he's doing like Martha Stewart and getting it over with so he can get on with his life and (b) he probably does not want to be around the house for the holidays.  

    The former reason would include his desire to return to football.  An "acceptance of responsibility without protest" stance, which going straight to jail without waiting could be construed as, would likely be a credit to him in negotiations with the NFL for his return.  And, athletes have limited shelf lives and he is getting up there.  The sooner he gets this over with, the better his chance of being physically capable of performing at an NFL level, making returning a more viable prospect.

    The latter can be either (a) because he doesn't want to deal with people talking to him about the case, or the potential cases in state court, or (b) because he's being generous to his family by sparing them the issue of his coming incarceration.  I suspect it's (a) - his long-time buddies turned on him in the federal dog-fighting case and likely did that based upon casual conversations in social situations.  So, why would he want to expose himself to "friends" or family either being compelled to testify against him in a grand jury situation (or similar) or to those "friends" being co-defendants and then rolling on him in a state court action, telling what they say he said over Thanksgiving dinner.  Or even wearing a wire, for that matter.  Adrianna bringing Agent Whatshername to Sunday dinner at Tony Soprano's house comes to mind.

    I'd suspect he or his counsel have had some communication with/from other incarcerated prominent people (or learned from their experience) in making this decision.  It comes to mind that linebacker "Tank" Johnson, formerly a Chicago Bear and now of Dallas had to do some time (gun charge, IIRC) in Illinois after last season (and playing in the Super Bowl, for which he needed the sentencing judge's permission).  I remember the coverage of his incarceration noting he was receiving some deference from other inmates and from guards - I'd suspect Vick could get some of that same space during his incarceration, lessening the possibility of snitches.

    As to the county lockup issue, my first thought was "space issue in the federal lockup".

    I'd also suspect his lawyers have been in deep negotiations with the state authorities re potential state charges and may have a deal in the works on that, the contours of which would be driven by a desire to return to the NFL.

    He goes to the regional jail (none / 0) (#6)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:37:00 AM EST
     because one does not get assigned to BOP until sentenced (except in  cases where the court orders an in-cutosdy psych eval at a BOP facility).

      Federal pre-trial and presentence detainees are usually housed in local facilities which have contracts with the U.S. Marshal's office to house federal prisoners although in a few very large jurisdiction the feds have their own pre-trial and presentence detention facilities.

      As for the timing, I think we all agree it's football related but that doesn't answer entirely the "why now" question. Why not immediately after he entered his plea which would have resulted in even earlier release and afforded more time to get into "game shape" prior to next season?

      Totally guessing, I'd offer that maybe he was holding out hope that he would receive a below guidelines sentence until very recently but reality has hit home and his lawyers have convinced him that is very unlikely.

    You're right.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:10:32 AM EST
    he should be cained in the public square to satisfy your punitive needs.

    Kdog's and my posts here (none / 0) (#11)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:25:29 AM EST
     now appear to be non sequiturs. We were responding to a deleted post expressing disgust with Vick which was probably deleted because of bad language and over-generalization.

    I'm sure (none / 0) (#9)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:15:44 AM EST
      he will marketable in the NFL. He'll still be relatively young and he is an exceptional athlete (although maybe not a great NFL QB, he's definitely good enough to play it in the NFL). Adding to his marketability, he will be a "bargain" because of his legal problems and social stigma.  Getting a guy a year or two removed from being a $10 million a year guy for a tenth or less of that while he's still in his prime age-wise is soething some team will pounce upon.

       If he then performs on the field, he will eventually have chance to get back to the type of football income he was making. He'll never get back to the level of endorsement income he once enjoyed. It remains to be seen how much, if any, of the money the Falcons already paid him under his contract they will be able to recoup. All in all, he's paying a huge financial cost for his crime but, of course, that's different from Joe Blow only because he was in a position to pay a huge financial price. Mr. Blow would not lose as much only because he doesn't have as much to lose, and even if the Falcons receive judgment for all of the bonus money they already paid, I'd imagine Vick will still be better off than the vast majority of people convicted of serious crimes.

      I share your cynicism generally about athletes and other celebrities who publicly pronounce their "reformation" after misconduct but, that doesn't mean that some of them do not genuinely change for the better or that Vick will not. Time will tell, but no need to prejudge him.


    Oh, there will be teams lining up to sign him (none / 0) (#14)
    by scribe on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 10:35:22 AM EST
    I mean, Vinny Testaverde, who turned 44 last week, is starting in the NFL.

    And Vick's jersey was one of the top sellers of all NFL merchandise.

    Even if Vick loses the better part of two seasons, he'll still be marketable and will get another job.  


    Maybe, maybe not (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:25:44 AM EST
    I think if he comes back, it won't be as a quarterback.  With a year in prison and away from an intensely competitive and physical game (at its most important position), I don't think teams would pay good money for him as the field general.  He was a gimmick quarterback to start with, and he wasn't really developing beyond that.  If anything, he seemed to be regressing a bit.  But he most likely will still have his legs, and that running ability provides a good incentive for ateam to invest a little in him as a potential receiver and kickoff/punt returner.

    He's not (none / 0) (#20)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:30:22 AM EST
      a great QB, but look at all the teams (including the Falcons) who now are forced to play really bad ones. When he first comes back he will probably be settling for a contract comensurate with what teams pay dubious back-ups, and despite his admitted deficiencies he has a lot more potential than a lot of them.

    I just think... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Dadler on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:34:40 AM EST
    ...with that much time away from the game, and especially at the QB position, he will simply have regressed too much to be effective.  Receiving and returning kicks just seem the natural and most likely route, where he could immediately make an impact.  Of course this is only my hunch's opinion.  

    That might (none / 0) (#23)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:40:34 AM EST
      turn out to be the case, but I still think some team will sign him as a QB and give him a chance to show he can play the position. If not maybe he will fall back on his speed to play WR/KR, but I can't imagine 32 teams all deciding he is washed up as a QB without testing that suspicion.

      People miss similar time from injuries and come back and some guys even older retire then come back after similar lay-offs. Who knows-- maybe this sorry episode will change him and he will become more deidcated to being a better player and a better person.


    The CFL (none / 0) (#24)
    by Natal on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 12:56:37 PM EST
    He could always go to the CFL and be a big star. I mean Toronto took Ricky Williams without hesitation with his abuse record.

    Abuse record?? (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 01:43:45 PM EST
    Are you joking?...all Ricky did was enjoy some reefer, hardly makes him a drug abuser.  Let's not give creedence to the NFL's draconian drug policy that disallows any marijuana use, but allows pain-killing injections of far more dangerous substances.

    Shoot. If the reports are even halfway true, (none / 0) (#27)
    by scribe on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 03:01:45 PM EST
    he didn't "enjoy" reefer, he had a mystical relationship with it.  But, regardless, he somehow managed to get into Canada.

    The son of a friend of a friend plays in the CFL - their season is already going to the playoffs and they start earlier too.  So, time-wise, Vick would have to get out earlier to even think about going there.  Of course, he could also use the CFL as a live-fire tryout/audition tape for a return to the NFL.  


    True (none / 0) (#30)
    by Natal on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 05:45:51 PM EST
    The season is earlier but the CFL will take NFL rejects anytime of the season no matter what. It's the only way they can get star players nowadays. The glory days of landing high draft picks such as Johnny Rodgers, Sandy Stephens, Billy Vessels are over. NFL clubs have too much money.

    A question for legal scholars (none / 0) (#12)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:41:54 AM EST
    Why is dog-fighting being prosecuted in federal courts? I cannot remember a single dog-fighting case in federal court before this. I know there is the "crossing state lines" thing, but why are feds doing this instead of, say, enforcing laws against kidnapping and torture that another gang in Virginia (Langley) is committing? Or at least enforcing corporate law violations?

    And why did the federal government spend four years and millions of dollars trying to nail a guy who lying about taking steroids? Seems to me that there must be something more important than that.

    These are show trials that give the Republicans some sliver of advantage by tickling the race bone in the back of heads of the jamokes out there, not unlike the whole OJ Simpson mass media thing helped to push Newt Gingrich and his gang over the top in 1994.

    two answers for two questions (none / 0) (#15)
    by scribe on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 10:39:35 AM EST
    The dog fighting case is being prosecuted in federal court because there is the federal Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits crossing state lines for dogfighting, among other things.

    Vick is being prosecuted because he's Vick.

    And, IMHO, the feds spent four years on Bonds not because they want to clean up steroids in sports, but rather because Bushie wants to give some union-busting assistance to his former owner buddies.  If the feds were serious about steroids in sports, there would be a lot more attention paid to NFL players than MLB.  But, the baseball players' union is hugely strong, and the NFLPA is a roll-over lapdog for the owners, so the former gets all the attention and the latter a free pass.


    I can't remember ONE other dog-fighting case being prosecuted by the feds. Or any other case prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act.

    And is there a Kidnappers and Torturers' Welfare Act?


    Dog-figthing (none / 0) (#18)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:22:26 AM EST
     is rarely prosecuted at any level. One case that was prosecuted federally coincidentaly was before this same USDct judge in Va and resulted in a 30 month sentence.

      Vick was not charged with nor convicted under the new animal welfare Act. It remains to be seen how new legislation impacts frequency of prosecutions or sentences.

      I really don't see how any of that matters. Would you favor more dog fighting prosecutions if the defendants were not ahtletes? Were not black? Included high ranking Bush administration officials?  

      i think it is just highly destructive of any shred of credibility to toss around silly arguments such as the vick prosecution was a political ploy by the bush Administration. With so many REAL transgression with Bush why distract with nonsensical ranting?


    So, the LA DA (none / 0) (#13)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:54:57 AM EST
      chose to prosecute Simpson for murder to help the GOP? Or, do you mean he merely assigned assistants to bungle the case to help the GOP?

      Or are you making the less than wise claim that if a Democrat is elected President, the Justice Department will adopt policies curtailing the prosecution of people such as Vick whose abuse of animals occurs in a manner sufficient to establish federal jurisdiction over related offenses?


    Next time read, decon (none / 0) (#17)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:14:13 AM EST
    I am saying that the Republicans used the OJ case (and other high profile cases) to further their political goals. You should go back and read the newspapers and see how Gingrich pinned all the immorality and lawlessness in the land on Bill Clinton and the Dems. Hell, he used Susan Smith to further Republican political goals and her psychopathy was in large part because her stepfather, a minor Republican official in South Carolina, molested her as a child. Facts don't matter when you connect Bill Clinton with a couple of kids drowning in their car because black men carjacked it.

    The Democrat Secretary of State even asked the judge in the OJ case not to hold pre-trial hearings on election day 1994 because too many people would stay home and watch instead of voting. Look it up. Look up all the big crime cases from 1994, like the Polly Klaas case, and see how the psychological links between Clinton, the Dems and lawlessness and immorality were repeated over and over.

    Propaganda does not require facts or logic. To be effective it only requires a link between feelings. Fear and anger connected to Bill Clinton. If you've been awake over the last seven years you might have noticed.

    I am saying that dogfighting has not been a concern of the federal government. Should Michael Vick have been prosecuted? Sure, in a court of the State of Virginia. I am not even sure that Bonds should have been prosecuted for his perjury. These are show trials.

    By the way, I do think that the Simpson murder trial in 1994 was just as much a show trial as many of the trials in Nazi Germany or the old Soviet Union. If you are interested, go to Oliver Willis' website under the forum section and follow the discussion there.

    There is a huge difference (none / 0) (#21)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:33:22 AM EST
    between some demagogue exploiting a criminal case and the decision to prosecute being politically motivated.

       Bonds was offered immunity; he refused it. He could have taken the 5th before the GJ when asked about drug use. He chose to testify in a manner the Feds consider be intentionally false as to a material matter. Did you whine when Libby was prosecuted for that?


    Immunity (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 04:35:12 PM EST
    is not something you can decline if they want to get your story. They'll give it to you whether you want it or not. If he took the 5th, they would have then immunized him and he'd have to tell about his drug use. His only option then would be to take a civil contempt hit for refusing to testify after being immunized and being incarcerated for the life of the grand jury. That's what his pal did.

    I agree lying (if he did) was a poor option. But I doubt he could have said "I'll take the 5th" and ended it right there.


    Looks like he perjured himself (none / 0) (#31)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 10:37:55 PM EST
    Nevertheless, I am old enough to remember a time when the federal courts actually had more to do than prosecute black athletes.

    We know that a whole bunch of federal prosecutors got fired because they wouldn't prosecute who BushCo wanted them to prosecute. That included the last prosecutor in Northern Cal. It's not a huge leap to believe that these prosecutions aren't done for political reasons.

    And, no, Bonds couldn't just refuse to answer questions without being in contempt of the grand jury.


    It should also be noted that Bonds was questioned in regards to the Balco investigation. That case is long over, years ago. The owner has already served his time. The case is closed. So the point of the investigation is over. The federal prosecutor chose to continue to pursue Bonds.


    No, this was (none / 0) (#29)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 04:46:01 PM EST
      not a case, as usually,  of use immunity. He (and other athletes who took the deal) were offered transactional immunity in exchange for truthful testimony regarding the BALCO investigation. Now, at the time Bonds may have been in a different position than the other because the immunity repotredly  extended only to illegal possession or use of performance enhancing drugs and he was also being investigated for tax violations, but the offer was made and declined.

      I would bet any amount of money he chose to go on record denying drug use because he feared the public would find out if he testified he had or took the 5th  and that would harm him financially and in public esteem. that proved to be a very valid concern given the illegal leak of his GJ testimony and its use in a book and series of newspaper articles.