Topic: "Vick Drops, Cough!" (3)
"Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Court is now in Session, the Honorable Judge Frodo presiding. All Ye Who Have Business Before the Court, please step forward," said the Bailiff.
"United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald representing the Prosecution, Your Honor."
"Barrister Johnny Cockamamie representing the Defendant, Your Honor."
"Mister Prosecutor, do you have an opening statement?," asked Judge Frodo.
"I do, but brief Your Honor. It is the intent of the Prosecution to prove that the indictments against Mister Michael Vick, aka 'Ookie,' document his involvement in the interstate transportation of animals for the purpose of conducting illegal gambling on dogs fighting dogs."
"Does the Defense wish to make an opening statement?," Frodo asked.
"Only that the Defendant reasonably thought that his conduct was both reasonable and legal, and that no intent existed to break any laws."
Frodo stared at Cockamamie, and thought to himself that Frodo may well soon be wishing that he had never gone to Law School in the first place. He smelled a rat in the defense contention.
"Mr. Prosecutor, please proceed with your first witness. . ."
Five days later, after testimony from fourteen eye witnesses to Michael Vick's physical presence at illegal dog-fights in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, the prosecution was prepared to rest its case. Along the way, the Government presented photographs of Michael Vick, credit-card receipts, fingerprints, and cashed checks; the evidence substantiated that Vick had been present at the fights, that he had bet on the fights, that he transported dogs to the fights, and that he had participated in the slaughter of dogs who had performed poorly in these fights. The Attorney for the Defense had virtually conceded all of the evidence, and had not challenged any of the facts entered into the record.
After the prosecution rested, Frodo eyed Cockamamie, and asked if he were prepared to call his first witness.
"Your Honor, the Defense will rest after the testimony of our only witness, Mr. Michael Vick."
The courtroom was abuzz as the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons sauntered up to the witness stand. Wearing his trademark doo-rag and baggy shorts, and the black-and-red Official NFL Uniform Shirt (Number 7) with the name "VICK", and his NIKE tennis shoes, he smiled at his trained poodle Arthur Blank, Owner of the Atlanta Falcons Football Team. After placing his hand on the Bible, he sat down and waited for Johnny Cockamamie to ask the first question.
"Mr. Vick, did you or did you not own fighting dogs?"
"Did you or did you not participate in the breeding, training, and the selection of dogs for fighting?"
"Did you or did you not transport dogs to the various locations identified during this trial for the purpose of makingf them available to fight?"
"Did you or did you not wager on these events?"
Cockamamie walked away from the witness stand, and looked directly into the faces of the Jury. He asked, "If you did all that is alleged by the Prosecution, as you have just indicated, then why Sir, may I ask, would you have the temerity to plead 'Not Guilty?'
This was the question that everyone in the room and around the country was asking themselves at this very moment. Frodo knew that everything hinged on what Vick would now do or say.
"Mr. Cockamamie, in Georgia, where I live and play football for the Atlanta Falcons, it is not a felony for dog fighting to take place, and, as I now understand, Georgia is one of only two States where that is the case. It was my understanding at the time that no one could even be charged with a misdemeanor for dog-fighting unless the police were actually present and witnessed the dog fight."
"So, Mr. Vick, you're saying that you logically assumed that if dog-fighting was not even a felony then it was no big deal?"
"You got that right, Dude."
"I beg your pardon."
"I mean, yes sir. In fact, I thought that if we simply held the fights in places where the police weren't invited, like on private property, that we weren't even doing anything which would merit their interest, at all."
"Who attended these matches, Mr. Vick?"
"Invited guests only."
"So, if I may sum up, you are saying that you were following the laws of the State of Georgia, and that you were holding a private party on private property?"
"Yeah, I mean yes sir."
Frodo looked at Fitzgerald, who remarkably resembled "Scooter" Libby, and he watched as the members of the Jury looked around, many of them nodding their heads. Vick was signing autographs for the bailiff. Arthur Blank was handing out "$10 Off" Home Depot coupons to the gallery.
The following season, Michael Vick threw 8 touchdown passes, ran for 22 more, and the Atlanta Falcons finished the season with 7 Wins and 9 Losses. During the course of the Season, 565 American troops were killed in Iraq.
Judge Frodo resigned from the Bench and moved to Idaho.