Jay Mariotti plea deal, in just 39 days

On Thursday, September 30 Jay Mariotti wrapped up his criminal matter in a mere 39 days. He hired a lawyer who protected his client’s privacy throughout and got him the best deal he could get, without going to trial and winning an acquittal on all 7 misdemeanor charges.

To settle the matter, the sports journalist agreed to plead no contest to one misdemeanor count of domestic violence. He was placed on probation for three years, ordered to attend a year-long domestic violence class and spend 40 days performing community service.  Mariotti will serve no jail time for his crime.

He has agreed to stay away from the victim, reported to be his girlfriend at the time, whose lawyer feels like his client got the shaft twice; when she got attacked and then in the reports of the settlement put out by Mariotti’s legal team.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Leonard Levine was more than a bit displeased that his client has not been treated as if she endured abuse. Rather, he said, the Mariotti team characterized the incident as one in which the victim was drunk and abusive to him. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Levine and the agreed upon plea deal reflects that reality.

Mariotti was arrested in the early morning hours of August 21 on suspicion of felony domestic violence. An eyewitness called police and gave a statement of what he observed, outside Mariotti’s apartment building in Venice, CA.

Prosecutors chose not to charge him with any felonies and the case was sent to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office to determine if any lesser charges would be brought. Mariotti got slapped with seven misdemeanors but his court date for arraignment was postponed.

It’s clear now why that happened.

His legal team started discussing a plea bargain almost immediately, and within five weeks of his arrest it was wrapped up. That avoided a sure embarrassment of the usual “perp walk” to and from the courthouse, with media surrounding him every step of the way.

Unfortunately for him, he was suspended during that time, from his lead journalist role at AOL FanHouse. His job at ESPN was never formally suspended but the network didn’t book him to appear on his daily afternoon talk show gig on “Around the Horn.” The sports network can now weigh its decision on when and if Mariotti will return to the air. FanHouse and make its determination about that as well.

Pleading to domestic violence and accepting a court mandated course on the subject doesn’t make one the ideal candidate to go back on the air. Especially as a commentator who rips into sports figures when they do the things Mariotti was accused of. It’s more likely that FanHouse will be the first to give Mariotti his chance at redemption. Surely he’ll pen his mea culpa and maybe even admit that he was one of the least liked sports journalist as a result of his superiority complex.

With a three-year probation period, the court sent a message to him that he will be watched and punished more severely if there is a hint of a repeat of that old behavior. One can only guess what his community service choice will be. A battered woman’s shelter anyone…anyone?

Used with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for Examiner.com and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles. 

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