Yes, Judge Kathleen McHugh should free Chad Johnson. Through the lawyer whose butt Chad slapped to spark his 30-day sentence, the former NFL receiver officially has asked to be released.
Per the Associated Press, attorney Adam Swickle filed a motion on Tuesday asking Judge McHugh to reconsider the decision to reject a plea deal and incarcerate Johnson.
On Monday, she was poised to approve an agreement that would have rectified Johnson’s probation violation (he missed meetings with his probation officer after last year’s plea of no contest to charged of assaulting his wife) by extending the term of the probation to December 21 and imposing 25 hours of community service. But when Johnson gave Swickle a playful pat on the rear end and the courtroom reacted with laughter, McHugh pulled the plug on the arrangement.
“Mr. Johnson has been a professional football player in the National Football League for 11 years and patting another individual on the backside is viewed as a sign of respect and gratitude,” Swickle writes in the official paperwork. “It is clear that the court misinterpreted Mr. Johnson’s interaction with his attorney.”
Swickle also argues that the laughs from the audience were “not Mr. Johnson’s fault and he should not be punished for the actions of third parties.”
It’s all a bit of a stretch. Johnson knew he wasn’t on a football field. He knew or should have known that behavior of this type isn’t appropriate in a courtroom. Instead of blaming the judge for not understanding how football works or on those who merely reacted to what they witnessed, Swickle should simply apologize profusely on behalf of his client and ask the judge to consider whether a 30-day sentence is justified under the circumstances.
Actually, the better approach would have been for Swickle to submit a one-page motion attaching a handwritten letter from Johnson in which he admits that he was wrong and seeks another chance to comply with the terms of his probation.
Flimsy excuses based on strained logic won’t do much to persuade Judge McHugh that she should relent. A heartfelt acceptance of responsibility and a clear demonstration that Johnson has finally learned his lesson will.