Should Rusty Hardin have let Deshaun Watson speak on Friday?

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On Friday, attorney Rusty Hardin held his first press conference in connection with the Deshaun Watson cases. Hardin, at the outset of the press conference, acknowledged that he considered having Watson present.

“We toyed with the idea of having him here today,” Hardin said. “So I indicated to some people he might be, and we made a decision just a little while ago that it really wouldn’t add anything because I wasn’t going to allow him to answer any questions. And I think most of you all understand that. You’ve got investigations going on, not just police departments have been asked to look at it, but the NFL. There may be other agencies that look at it.”

Hardin quipped that his malpractice insurance wouldn’t let Hardin allow Watson to speak. That’s an overstatement of the connection between letting a client speak publicly when multiple potential investigations are pending and the commission of legal malpractice. Indeed, plaintiff Ashley Solis spoke publicly on Tuesday regarding her claims against Watson. Attorney Tony Buzbee didn’t commit malpractice in allowing Solis to read a statement without answering questions.

The fact that Solis has provided a name, a face, and a voice to the accusations changed the case. It makes efforts to have third parties vouch for Watson feel incomplete and hollow. Hardin’s press conference nevertheless consisted of multiple lawyers — lawyers who are paid to advocate zealously and thoroughly for Watson — proclaiming to the world that he’s incapable of such behavior.

It’s arguably too late for that tactic in the court of public opinion, and it will never be time for that tactic in a court of law, where the lawyer saying “my client didn’t do it” means absolutely nothing. Watson could have appeared at the press conference and read from a carefully crafted statement that undermines none of his interests, just as Ashley Solis did. Hardin could have refused to let Watson answer questions, just as Buzbee did with Ashley Solis.

Instead, Hardin opted to profess Watson’s innocence via those paid to represent him. Hardin, for example, explained that he sent two lawyers whom he believed to be “instinctively pro-women” to meet with Watson for two days and to report back with their impressions.

“At the end of that time,” Hardin said, “they can speak for themselves, but both of them called back to say, ‘We deeply, deeply do not believe this guy ever did anything non-consensual with any woman during any of this. He didn’t coerce them. We don’t believe he used his position. We don’t believe he intimidated them. We simply do not.’ Were there sometimes consensual encounters? Yes. And will that come out in any kind of litigation or trial? Of course it will, and that’s where it should come out.”

Other lawyers from Watson’s legal team similarly vouched for Watson.

“From the moment that I’ve spent time with this young man, I have no qualms telling you that I stand here unequivocally stating the things that he has been accused of, the things that he has been persecuted for in the public, he simply has not done,” attorney Letitia Quiñones said, before outlining a clean “credit history” for Watson and then chastising those in the media who have “jump[ed] on the bandwagon” against Watson.

Said another lawyer on Watson’s legal team, “This man is not capable of the things that are in the allegations. He is not that man. He is not a sexual predator. And I feel very strongly to say he has not forced, coerced, intimidated, or threatened any woman to do anything to him.”

Again, none of these statements will matter in court. And no one should be surprised that the lawyers paid to represent Watson will declare publicly that he didn’t do it. That’s what lawyers do.

On Friday, Watson could have appeared at the press conference. He could have read from a statement. He could have carefully avoided anything that could or would be used against him in court. He could have answered the decision of Ashley Solis to put a face and voice on the allegations with a face and voice on the defense against them.

Watson could have done it. Hardin made the tactical decision, for whatever reason, not to have Watson do it. Tying the decision to not allow Watson to answer questions or to avoid jeopardizing Hardin’s malpractice insurance doesn’t explain the strategy to opt for lawyers declaring that Watson is innocent instead of letting Watson do so himself through comments carefully written and vetted to ensure that the things Watson would have said on Friday would not have come back to haunt him later.

13 responses to “Should Rusty Hardin have let Deshaun Watson speak on Friday?

  1. You are coming at this very one sided. I’d suggest you do some more research into Tony Buzbee and question the motives behind this circus.

    This is a political stunt. Notice that the first post he made about this thing a few weeks ago was essentially his campaign stump speech from his failed run for Mayor of Houston. “My mother was the bus driver, my father was a butcher, i was a marine …” blah blah blah. Time and time again, Buzbee has done things that lawyers do not do. Lawyers don’t make social media posts about individuals being sued in Civil Court. Lawyers don’t make posts calling out defense counsel. Lawyers do not make social media posts soliciting more clients for civil sexual assault lawsuits.

    Notice that the one accuser Buzbee had make a statement last week, what she said can already be refuted. She said since her encounter with Watson in March 2020, she hadn’t been able to “do what she loves” and preform massage therapy. A quick google/instagram search reveals she posted dozens of videos and pictures of herself giving massages since March 2020. That is the real danger of being able to file 22 Jane Doe lawsuits against someone. “Facts” fall apart real fast when the accused has the opportunity to investigate and defend. That good ol thing called Due Process, remember?

  2. Reminds me of Chuck Turner, a City Councillor in Boston for years, who was convicted in 2010 on bribery charges. His defense that he didn’t take the money was that he would have remembered if he did.

  3. Considering that Watson rarely speaks publicly, what would have been the point of that? This was all about embarrassing him for not being as squeaky clean as some adults who are the same subset of people who believe in the fairy tale and Easter Bunny apparently thought he was. He is in no danger of anything except what was the original aim of this when the first woman through her “business manager” said pay us or we’ll embarrass you. A press conference wasn’t going to change that. Some people can’t believe a 25-year-old athlete has casual sex with strangers. Shocking. Bring back Playmakers.

  4. I don’t want to hear from Deshaun Watson. I don’t want to hear from Tony Buzbee or Rusty Hardin either. Save it for the courtroom. Or, better yet, resolve this thing before going to trial.

  5. Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.

  6. The huge amount of money thrown to Watson from one might say “Nowhere” has brought a flock of money hungry Vultures to do Busbee’s bidding who stands to gain the most out of this.

  7. Anything that Watson would have been advised to read from a statement couldn’t be any worse than what his attorney has already said. The “it was consensual” defense will probably bury him. Why Watson doesn’t change counsel is beyond me. Maybe it’s too late.

  8. formerlawyer says:
    April 10, 2021 at 11:25 am
    You are coming at this very one sided. I’d suggest you do some more research into Tony Buzbee and question the motives behind this circus.

    This is a political stunt. Notice that the first post he made about this thing a few weeks ago was essentially his campaign stump speech from his failed run for Mayor of Houston. “My mother was the bus driver, my father was a butcher, i was a marine …” blah blah blah. Time and time again, Buzbee has done things that lawyers do not do. Lawyers don’t make social media posts about individuals being sued in Civil Court. Lawyers don’t make posts calling out defense counsel. Lawyers do not make social media posts soliciting more clients for civil sexual assault lawsuits.

    Notice that the one accuser Buzbee had make a statement last week, what she said can already be refuted. She said since her encounter with Watson in March 2020, she hadn’t been able to “do what she loves” and preform massage therapy. A quick google/instagram search reveals she posted dozens of videos and pictures of herself giving massages since March 2020. That is the real danger of being able to file 22 Jane Doe lawsuits against someone. “Facts” fall apart real fast when the accused has the opportunity to investigate and defend. That good ol thing called Due Process, remember?

    —————

    Doing something and loving what you’re doing are two different things. If Watson took the previously held joy in her job, that he should be held accountable for that

  9. Current scorecard Hardin VS Buzzbee
    Buzzbee 14
    Hardin 0
    I believe the axiom is a man representing himself has a fool for a client.
    Hardin is not much better. Continues to just seem indecisive, unprepared, and not up to the task at hand. In my opinion.

  10. Hardin can’t pay off the Texas courts here, Clemens steroids or not.

    Watson and Hardin are finished.

  11. Lawyers who only just met Watson say he unequivocally can’t have done what he’s been accused of?

    I don’t think there are words for how meaningless that assertion is.

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