Yes, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has been charged by police with four felonies (including aggravated assault) and a misdemeanor after a fight that occurred in Pittsburgh last weekend. A month ago, Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter also was charged by police with multiple charges aggravated assault. And then the District Attorney got involved.
Steven A. Zappala Jr. exercised his broad discretion to ultimately drop the claim that Porter committed aggravated assault, even though the video evidence suggested that the crime as defined by Pennsylvania law had been committed. So what will Zappala do with Revis?
A cynic would say that Revis would be more likely to get the benefit of the doubt if he played for the Steelers. But he did play for Pitt, and he surely has enough connections to the school and its football program to allow for the political machinery to churn behind the scenes in a way that will result in the prosecutor who also is a political being lobbied to look the other way.
Regardless of whether Zappala makes a legal decision for legal reasons or a political decision for political reasons or some combination of the two, it seems like reasonable doubt already is lurking within the facts of the case. Apart from the distinct possibility that alcohol consumption could undermine the reliability of witness testimony, the fact that the two alleged victims apparently weren’t immediately available to tell a clear and complete story about what happened and the existence of a sharply-conflicting version of the events from the lawyer already hired by Revis will make it hard to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
Political realities aside, prosecutors routinely choose not to take a case to trial if the prosecutors fear that an acquittal is looming. Barring the kind of evidence (e.g., non-grainy, clear video) that tells a story requiring no elaboration with live testimony, Zappala easily could conclude that a conviction can’t be obtained — especially since Revis has the money to obtain the quality of defense lawyer that Zappala’s team of lawyers typically doesn’t have to face in court.