Most people who follow the news - especially those who watch ESPN - know about the case of Josh Brent, the former Dallas Cowboy who was charged with intoxicated manslaughter. He was involved in accident that resulted in the death of his friend - also a Cowboy player. There was no doubt that they both had been drinking, and the State's blood test results showed an alcohol level over twice the legal limit.

With those facts, a lot of people were suprised at the jury verdict, which placed Brent on probation for ten years. The reaction has been fairly typical, with MADD and other similar groups attacking the decision.

I'm not going to comment on whether I think it was appropriate or not because I didn't sit through the trial. However, I do want to address a couple of factors that I think probably contributed to the verdict. One was his celebrity. He was pro football player, but he didn't just play for any team. Unless you live in Texas, you don't understand the position the Dallas Cowboys hold. While their image has taken a hit over the last few years, they are still the most recognizable sports team in America. While I don't live in Dallas, I can only imagine their status is amplified there. So Josh Brent wasn't just a football player, he was a Dallas Cowboy.

The other factor that few people have talked about is his lawyers. He was represented by one of the best lawyers around, George Milner. He fought the State from the get go, and conceeded nothing. While the blood test results were high, he challenged their accuracy. He also apparently did a great job of showing the jury who Brent really was - which is usulaly not what they expect whent they walk into a criminal court. In short, he provided the zealous representation that all defendant's are entitled to.

There's also one final factor, which was the victim's family; they supported Brent. They had a found a way to accept the tragedy and move on, which was through forgiveness. It's hard to disagree with a mother who has lost her son when she asks you to give tthe defendant another chance.

Whether you disagree with the verdict or not, that's what the jury decided. They were the representatives of the community, who sat through the entire trial and heard all the evidence. That's we decide cases with juries and public opinion.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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