Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vick hires legal gunslinger

Johnnie Cochran is gone, so Michael Vick hired Billy Martin, one of the best defense attorneys around, to represent him against federal charges.

Martin came first came to national prominence as one of the attorneys representing Monica Lewinsky's mother during the Clintongate scandal. He also represented former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell on corruption charges. Other clients include NBA stars Allen Iverson, Juwan Howard and Jayson Williams, and Chandra Levy’s parents. His wife, Michel Martin, is a correspondent for Nightline on ABC.

Martin is a partner at the law firm of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, LLP, where he heads the White Collar Criminal Defense Practice. His profile on the Sutherland, Asbill web site describes him as "a skilled negotiator whose experience includes bringing diverse constituencies and interests together—despite highly charged political circumstances—to resolve community conflicts." The profile describes his growing reputation with professional athletes:
"Billy also maintains an active sports and entertainment practice. In addition to serving as an advisor to organizations such as the NBA and NFL Players Associations, Billy has advised numerous clients on the scope and meaning of the NCAA rules and eligibility requirements. He has represented professional athletes and entertainment industry figures in their public and private business dealings."

Involvement in dog fighting might have been the dumbest of the dumb things Vick [allegedly] did. Hiring Billy Martin may be the smartest.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wanted to suspend Vick for four games, until the League office ordered the team not to take action until their investigation is complete. A story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Falcons considered dropping Vick. They turned from that path to avoid the grievence Ookie was sure to file through the NFLPA. The team was prepared to live with the salary cap hit, according to the article.

Meanwhile, residents of Vick's boyhood neighborhood are puzzled by his apparent interest in dog fighting since the activity was not common there. Pit Bull dogs were not seen in the area until about five years ago.

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