Some, including lawyer Rusty Hardin, want people to believe that the decision of a couple of major juries in Texas not to prosecute Brown’s quarterback Deshaun Watson means that Watson has been acquitted. The chief law enforcement officer in Harris County, Texas disagrees.
At the end of a podcast interview with Kim Ogg, Mike Melster gave her the floor so she could say what she wanted to say about the situation. Here’s what Ogg said: “We respect our legal process. I love the law. It is designed to come to the truth. That’s really what people want. I do not think we as a culture can live with injustice. Remember that a grand jury no bill is not an exemption. People, even when they clear the criminal justice system, often face responsibility and follow in other parts of our judicial system. And so I think in order to determine if justice was done in this case, you have to wait and see how it all comes out on the civilian side of things and then through the NFL on the administrative side of things. And then people will decide if it’s justice. “
That has always been the case. But when the Harris County jury decided not to prosecute Watson for nine criminal charges in March, and in part thanks to a tweet that naively linked the absence of an indictment with evidence of innocence as part of the broader quid pro quo inherent to the world of breaking transactions five minutes before they are announced, the teams started the hunt for Watson.
After a weekend of reports about this and that team and some other teams interested in Watson, the Panthers, Falcons, Saints and Browns officially participated in the four-team race. The Browns, after being the first team out, decided to go all-in with a five-year, $ 230 million, fully guaranteed offer. It worked. The Browns got Watson.
Hooray for the browns!
The exclamation mark quickly became a question mark as reality crept back into the equation. Twenty-two civil lawsuits remained. An NFL investigation continued. The possibility of more lawsuits and more attention and more investigation and more who loudly wondered what the browns thought became, in the course of three months, a reality.
Ogg’s comments underscore the fact that no one should have been involved in the search for Watson’s contract, not without a settlement of all existing lawsuits and an obligation by Watson to quickly resolve any other claims that may arise. Say what you will about Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (and we admit we’ve been sitting a lot), but he had the right idea – all matters must be settled before a trade is made.
The Browns should have done the same. But with four teams falling over themselves to get Watson, the Browns were not in a position to dictate terms. None of the four terms were there.
Ogg’s comments also reinforce my belief that prosecutor Johna Stallings used the cover of the ridiculously secretive grand jury trial to subtly (or otherwise) make it known to the grand jury that, as Ogg said, Watson did not need to be prosecuted for “liability and consequences in other parts of our legal system. ” Again, it would be very difficult to convict Watson with evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, especially since he has the money to hire a dream team of defense attorneys who would have if-it-does-not-fit-you-must-acquit-pretended to win after victory after victory in criminal law.
Ogg’s point is that Watson’s bill (if any) will happen elsewhere. In civil court and / or in the court of Roger Goodell. And she’s right.
Hopefully, it will be the last word on this kneeling notion that the lack of an indictment means the existence of innocence, from Hardin or anyone else. No indictment definitely does not mean absolute innocence, and the person ultimately responsible for the presentation of these cases to a grand jury in Houston has said so himself.