Friday night’s bombshell in the case against Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Giants cornerback Deandre Baker regarding alleged payoffs to witnesses seemed to make their cases weaker. Baker’s lawyer claims that, in reality, it’s the exact opposite.
“They just made our case even stronger,” attorney Patrick Patel told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Patel is so confident that he’s now guaranteeing victory: “[I]f it’s not dismissed it’s gonna be won by a not-guilty, that’s for sure.”
Generally speaking, however, no one can know the eventual outcome of any legal proceeding; even when a lawyer is completely confident in the facts and/or the law supporting his or her position, there’s always another side, and it’s always resolved by a neutral and independent party. Once that happens, anything can happen.
Patel’s confidence in this case flows from his explanation that he and co-counsel Bradford Cohen knew about the effort by the witnesses to get money in order to change their stories, and that the lawyers encouraged Baker to cooperate in order to expose the ruse.
“We wanted to flush them out to see what they were trying to do,” Patel told Schwartz. “We didn’t go to the meeting, we didn’t pay, purposely. . . . We were with DeAndre telling [Dominic Johnson], ‘Write him, ask him, what does he want, what times does he want to meet?’ We were the ones who controlled the narrative. Baker had no intention of ever going. He was just trying to solicit the information of the blackmail.”
Patel’s comments to Schwartz also confirm a clear distinction in the defenses to be mounted by Dunbar and Baker. Patel points out that Dunbar’s lawyer, Michael Grieco, secured the affidavits from the witnesses recanting their stories, which suggest that Grieco and Dunbar did indeed make the payments.
According to the Seattle Times, Grieco has denied the allegation; evidence generated in the case arguably supports the notion that Grieco was involved. The fact that he, and not Patel, secured affidavits recanting allegations of wrongdoing seems to bolster the notion that Grieco and Dunbar got what they paid for, and paid for what they got.
“Note when the bail hearing was handled we did not have the four affidavits that Mr. Grieco had from the witnesses on tape being paid off,” Patel said. “If we were part of that we would have had them, too. . . . Did we solicit information to set these people up? Absolutely. They did exactly what I wanted them to do. They just made our case even stronger. This is why I guaranteed a dismissal.”
That said, none of this means that a robbery didn’t happen. It’s entirely possible that Dunbar and/or Baker are guilty as charged, and that the alleged victims/witnesses realized that they can make some money by changing their tune. In other words, the initial crime (if one happened) may have been followed by a second crime.
Still, the dramatic change in testimony with no involvement by Baker to get the testimony to change will make it easier to cross examine the witnesses who changed their stories, with the age-old question of “were you lying then or are you lying now?” making it much harder for prosecutors to clear the bar of reasonable doubt.
Still, there are no guarantees in the legal system. The only guarantee that is safe to make in the current case is that it likely will get even stranger as more developments unfold.