One of Aaron Hernandez’s various legal complications has become somewhat more complicated for the former Patriots tight end.
As explained earlier this week by Wesley Lowery of the Boston Globe, Hernandez has relied on his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination in the civil suit that claims he shot a friend in the face in February 2013.
The use of the Fifth Amendment comes in Hernandez’s formal written response to the civil complaint. Per Lowery, Hernandez uses the following sentence 13 times: “Defendant asserts his rights under the Fifth Amendment and, therefore, declines to respond to the allegations.”
Unlike a criminal case, where juries are told that silence cannot be used against a defendant, folks who refuse to testify in a civil case do so at their own financial peril. If/when the case filed by Alexander Bradley goes to trial, the jury likely will be told that it can draw an adverse inference from Hernandez’s refusal to testify.
In other words, the jury will be entitled to conclude that, by declining to say anything about the situation, Hernandez must have done something. Combined with the 51-49 “preponderance of the evidence” standard for civil cases, Bradley loses the case only if the jury finds his story to be so incredible that it overcomes Hernandez’s refusal to say, “I didn’t do it.”
The bigger challenge for Bradley will be getting compensated. Hernandez’s money currently is being devoted to the defense against pending murder charges in Massachusetts, with another potential double-murder charge still lingering.
Bradley may end up having to rely on trying to get his hands on the earned but unpaid bonus money from the Patriots. But Bradley may have to box out the families of up to three murder victims in order to receive compensation for being shot in the head by the man who currently refuses to say that he didn’t do it.
Hernandez’s willingness to throw in the towel on the civil suit suggests that he legitimately fears prosecution for the shooting in Florida. As he should. Especially if he isn’t able or willing to say, “I didn’t do it.”