Wow, this is getting good.
In response to a sudden interest by Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau to throw the book at former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress and current Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, team owner John Mara has teed off on Morgenthau.
“We have refrained from making any
public statement regarding the legal proceedings against Plaxico Burress out of
respect for the process,” Mara said in a statement released by the team. “Our organization, including Antonio Pierce, has
cooperated fully with the police and the DA’s office from the outset of their
“However, since the District Attorney’s office has
seen fit to publicly discuss the details of the potential case against Burress
and has suggested it will seek to charge Antonio, we feel it is necessary to
offer the following: while we in no way condone Antonio’s decision to be in a
nightclub in Manhattan less than two days before a game, we cannot understand
the DA’s position that Antonio is subject to criminal charges. When this
incident occurred, Antonio reacted out of concern for the health and well-being
of Plaxico Burress. His first priority was to make sure Plaxico received proper
medical attention for what very well could have been a life-threatening wound.
There was no criminal intent on the part of Antonio, who was thrust into this
predicament simply because he accompanied Plaxico that evening and because he
made the decision to immediately take Plaxico to the hospital. We believe it is
unwarranted for the DA’s office to press criminal charges against Antonio under
And there’s that phrase again — “criminal intent.” Burress lawyer Benjamin Brafman has been using those words whenever describing the case, and it likely will be the centerpiece of Pierce’s defense, too.
Here’s the reality, for a wide range of crimes, intent isn’t necessary — and ignorance of the law is no excuse.
They are “strict liability crimes,” which attach liability without regard to what the lawyers call “mens rea,” Latin for a “guilty mind.”
Consequently, it doesn’t matter whether Burress or Pierce intended to possess a loaded and unlicensed gun in violation of New York law.
And the most telling point in Mara’s statement is the indication that the team doesn’t condone Pierce’s decision to be in a nightclub two nights before a game. If Pierce had decided to stay home that night and/or not to roll with a knucklehead who was carrying a loaded gun and/or not to pick the loaded gun up and remove it from the scene, Pierce wouldn’t be in this mess.
Indeed, if Pierce’s “first priority” was to make sure Plaxico received proper
medical attention,” there was no reason to assume possession of the gun.
Anyone who “gets it” knows what Pierce was also trying to do — he was trying to protect Burress from any potential legal problems. In doing so, Pierce unwittingly created a big one for himself.