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The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Manziel Lawyer Withdraws after Leaking Privileged Information to the Press

Adam Banner - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Johnny Football just can't seem to get it together. The once-promising athlete has seemed to be nothing but trouble since going pro, partying too much and facing criminal charges for domestic violence against his girlfriend. Now, it seems that his latest bad decision has been his choice of attorney.

Last week, Johnny Manziel reported to police that he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Dallas. When the Associated Press reached out to his attorney for a statement regarding the incident, the agency got more than it bargained for.

Instead of issuing a statement about the accident, attorney Bob Hinton sent the AP a lengthy text message indicating that his client would soon take a plea deal in his misdemeanor domestic violence case and discussing the football pro's inability to stay clean and sober. The text message contained information that should have been protected by attorney-client privilege, but instead, was sent directly to the media.

Hinton claims that the text was intended for another attorney and should never have been sent to the media organization. Because some of the information in the text is privileged and confidential, Hinton has threatened to sue the AP if certain details of the text are published.

Manziel's lead counsel says Hinton only operates on the "periphery" of the case, and that the defense team has always insisted that Manziel will plead not guilty; they say their strategy has not changed, regardless of what Hinton said in his test.

So what is an attorney to do when he not only gives out privileged information, but give it to the press? Withdraw as counsel, of course. 

Denise Michaels, Manziel's spokesperson, announced via Twitter that Jim Darnell, lead counsel in the domestic violence case, confirmed that Hinton had withdrawn as associate counsel and was no longer representing Johnny Manziel. It seems fairly certain that Hinton would have been fired had he not withdrawn. After all, who wants a defense attorney who tells the media that you bought more than $1,000 worth of drug paraphernalia within hours of a car accident? Who wants a defense lawyer who tells the press, "Heaven help us if one of the conditions (of probation) is to pee in a bottle"?

Whether the text to the AP was a gaffe or an intentional act disguised as an accident, it could certainly complicate things for the troubled free agent.

Manziel's own father has called him a "druggie" and said his son refuses to get help; however, the football player himself says that he is serious about getting sober--but with a caveat. Manziel apparently wants a few days for a last hurrah, saying he will get clean July 1. 

Meanwhile, the NFL has announced a four game suspension of the free agent for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He could face additional disciplinary measures from the NFL related to the domestic violence case and violation of the league's personal conduct policy.






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