Johnny Manziel may need a new lawyer. The AP eventually may need a new lawyer, too.
To cap a week that has consisted of plenty of renewed discussion regarding the manner in which the prosecutors in the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial botched the case, Manziel’s lawyer committed a technological faux pas by sending a text message accidentally to the Associated Press. Lawyers representing the AP likewise may have made a tactical error by authorizing publication of a text message that wasn’t intended for the AP.
“Manziel’s lawyer accidentally texts AP, confirms he is seeking plea deal in assault case, worries about QB’s ability to stay clean,” the AP posted at its NFL page. To the extent anyone may wonder whether the Twitter account was hacked, the AP has published a stand-alone story confirming the accidental text.
The mistake happened after an AP reporter texted lawyer Bob Hinton, seeking comment regarding the recent hit-and-run involving a car owned by Manziel. Hinton responded with a text that said, among other things, “Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle.”
Per the report, Hinton’s accidental text also said he “was given a receipt by a colleague that purports to show Manziel spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia shop 15 hours after the crash.”
It’s not Hinton’s first miscue in the case. Colleague Jim Darnell previously had to walk back Hinton’s off-the-cuff remark that he’d prefer to see Manziel and the ex-girlfriend he allegedly assaulted “kiss and make up.”
Nothing contained in Hinton’s unintended sequel is shocking, given what we already know about Manziel. The broader question is whether the AP should have shared the information that was accidentally shared with the AP, legally or ethically. The lawyer clearly wasn’t “on the record” with the AP; it was an accidental message clearly not meant for the AP or any other news operation.
Some would say that Hinton’s text should have been regarded as an off-the-record communication not authorized for use by the AP or anyone else. If Manziel’s lawyer believes that, and depending on how the law specifically applies to situations like this, there could be a few more rounds until this unexpected skirmish is over.